X Factor 2014: The hoo-ha over Haenow

Time for another midweek pivot off your comments, and we start with X Factor’s very own White Van Man.

1. What’s going on with Ben, then?

AlisonR: “It was a poor performance and the judges were rightly critical. But I don’t see his VT as positive either. He has 2 mates, in his van/in an otherwise empty cafe(?). Your ordinary bloke? Yes. Megastar? No.” EM: “Lets chuck a theory out there. They’re trying to replace Andrea in people’s affections with Ben.” Sagand: “I thought the performance was fine, but the comments were undeniably negative. I think it’s worth noting all the criticism was for the song not Ben, leaving plenty of room for ‘That’s what we’ve been waiting for’ moment if they decide to change ships back.”

For the second week running, Ben was criticised by the female judges for taking on songs away from the rock canon where they think he belongs. Was his overall treatment positive, negative or neutral? Our commenters cover all areas of the spectrum.

We’ll start with song choice, because that’s been the main controversy among the judges for ‘I Will Always Love You’ and ‘Cry Me A River’. Let’s remind ourselves that these are iconic, demo-delighting songs in the first place. It’s their suitability for Ben’s voice that’s under question. How well you think he coped with such challenges is a more subjective judgement. Our view was that he did so pretty well.

As mentioned previously, we think it would be more worrying for Ben if he’d been kept in his box with a series of rock songs. Arguably his worst moment came after his week 3 pimp slot when Simon criticised his own charge as “soundalike” for the Aerosmith rock number. Indeed, if we had a worry, it’s that by criticising his choice of non-rock songs to sing, Cheryl and Mel are backhandedly pigeonholing him as a rock performer.

Still, as Sagand notes, criticising song choice and not the performer is a useful way of not damaging Ben’s overall reputation. “Taking a crazy risk at this stage of the competition” is hardly the most damaging thing you could say – and it’s worth noting that Dermot gave Ben a chance to rebut Cheryl’s criticism, before helpfully informing us that Ben had made a “convincing case”. Going further, a sharp divergence of views on the panel about a decent performance arguably helps to motivate an act’s fanbase in general. Much worse to receive general agreement and platitudes for a middling performance, as Only The Young and Andrea proved again this weekend (see below).

It’s worth putting song choice and judges comments in the context of his overall treatment, and once again we see far more positives than negatives. Ben’s lighting and staging in weeks 6-7? Beautiful. Especially so for ‘Cry Me A River’ to the extent that I expected a four-judge standing ovation for the lovely long shot at the climax of the song. That time, it was just the audience and Simon.

Camerawork was great for him once again this week. Watch his performance back-to-back with Andrea and note how many more close-ups he gets. Halfway through he gets a gorgeous camera sweep around him – something which happened a minute in for ‘Cry Me A River’ too. On both occasions, Ben has been framed and lit like a popstar.

ben_week6

ben_lighting

There is some debate about his VT this week. Both AlisonR and Jessica were unimpressed with the Full English, greasy spoon moment with workmates. Again, we take a glass-more-than-half-full view that it continued on a theme of likeable everyman, something Louis was at pains to point out in his “nice guy” character-witness comments. His week 6 VT, taking his mother to a red carpet premiere, was completely demo-delighting.

In short, we can’t help but take a rosy view overall of Ben’s treatment over the last couple of weeks – positives aplenty, negatives not damaging. But if we’re right, is it because producers have been confident Fleur can beat Ben, so they don’t need to damage him; or because they’ve been doubtful Fleur can beat Ben, so they don’t want to damage him? If the latter, did Fleur’s family-and-friends-filled stage for ‘I’m Every Woman’ – which seemed like an all-out assault on Ben’s presumed demographic of post-teen women – change the game?

2. Tuning into Stereo Kicks

Curtis: “The producers are going to do everything for these guys, and you know what, I have to concede that it was all very well set up tonight.” James: “The names thing is wearing so thin now.”

It was Mel B who suggested in week 6 that she hadn’t got to know the individual members of Stereo Kicks, so it was entirely appropriate that when it came, Spice Girl-style nicknames were used too, directly appropriating Baby and Sporty. It was a masterful VT that’s worth looking at in a little more depth.

Louis starts by naming the eight boys in his introduction, before we’re reminded of Mel’s comment. Cue the boys on an ice-skating trip with names on their sweatshirts. A key reason the VT works is its playful manner throughout. The boys initially joke that not even Louis knows all their names, before their judge tells us he does but it’s the public who need to be reminded.

Unsurprisingly, we see footage of those members of the public who do guess their names correctly (you see – they are popular!), before the comic exception of Tom – good decision to have this amusing pay-off with one of the best-looking, most confident members of the band rather than one of the younger ones, which might have looked a little harsh.

meet_the_kicks

It’s then we go beyond their names and get their nicknames, a perfect shorthand for giving each boy a sense of character – it gives the band name a greater purpose too. Added to the two mentioned above, we get Flirty Kick, Diva Kick, Naughty Kick, Smiley Kick, Charming Kick and finally, Northern Kick (how convenient now that all the other northerners are out of the competition).

Again, this segment is managed deftly with clips of the boys playfully mocking each other in explaining the terms. Before we know it, they’re working hard on this week’s big song choice. “There might be eight of us, but we all want exactly the same thing,” Jake explains articulately. Truly, this is a group working in harmony with each other!

Like any good business presentation, afterwards it’s good to be reminded of what we’re supposed to have learnt. So once their performance had finished, Mel stated: “We’ve gotten to know you as a group … Now I see you as a proper group.” Simon repeated: “You look like a proper group … You’re supporting each other.” Cheryl used the word “gel” which Dermot reiterated as he said: “Do you feel now it’s time to gel, it’s coming together?”

All in all, a textbook treatment for pimping a group. Our only criticism is that it could have done with coming earlier in the competition. Still, better late than never.

3. The Donut Deramp, continued

Caro: “I have been intrigued by their treatment of Andrea, and the various facets of his being Italian. I agree that it is more complex than xenophobia: he is being presented as an example of ‘the other’, something different, a bit exotic, a bit strange and a bit comical. His campness is being played up – I am sure a lot of the audience understand the connotations of him consistently being called a ‘bear’….”

What are your all-time most memorable X Factor moments? Ask regular viewers and you’d probably get answers like Alexandra Burke’s duet with Beyonce or Matt Cardle’s ‘First Time Ever I Saw Your Face’. We’d give you a very different list – Sophie Habibis in the pubChris Maloney’s laser eyes… On Saturday we got a new one to add to the canon – Andrea eating cake at the Italian embassy. (Background, if you’re new to the donut deramp, herehere and point 5 here).

andrea_embassy_cake

Poor old Mel has had a rum time in her first year, hasn’t she? Three of her boys clinically assassinated in successive weeks, and now the pack of dogs have Andrea pinned to the ground. It’s always dangerous to speculate about what judges are really thinking, because one of the articles of faith on this site is that the judges are paid good money not to really think. Still, we rather enjoy looking out for Mel’s now-I-need-a-shower expression after she’s heaped praise on Fleur or Stereo Kicks. And we were amused a couple of weeks ago by Cheryl’s throwaway comment about how Mel really cares about her acts, which carried the unspoken subtext of “obviously, none of the rest of us give a shit about ours”.

4. On reverse psychology

Much as we like to amuse ourselves with postulating insanely left-field theories like producers trying to associate Andrea with the idea of sickly excess, it’s useful now and then to remind ourselves of the basics. One of the basics is reverse psychology, and this week saw not one but two examples of its power.

First and most obviously, Simon to Andrea: “There’s no way you’re leaving this week after that performance.” Andrea is safe! No need to vote for Andrea! Don’t vote for Andrea!

But also, Simon to Only The Young. Now, true, this was sandwiched between him saying they’d come alive and expressing a hope that people would vote for them, so you can debate whether it was deliberate (our working assumption is that Simon rarely errs). But it’s worth rewatching, because you can actually see the psychological effect on display in Only The Young’s faces.

Simon interrupts his praise by saying: “But here’s the problem – it’s a double elimination”. He pauses while the implication sinks in, the implication being: you might have scraped through if it were a single elimination, but we all know you’re not very popular. As he goes on to explain that they were among the favourites for elimination, Only The Young look tense and nervous. Then he says “But not after that”, and their faces explode with relief. Phew! We’re safe! Simon has decreed it so! How many viewers experienced a similar release of tension, and didn’t pick up their phone as a result?

5. A note of thanks to Sofabet commenters

Stoney: “I might even get a mention in a write up if she [Fleur] wins”.

The Sofabet comments have been busier than ever this year, and as always there have been some great shouts. Notably, anyone who reads below the line can’t possibly fail to have noticed that commenter Stoney has been banging the drum for Fleur since the first week of the live shows at vastly longer odds than she is now – at a point when we didn’t see it coming at all. Well done to him for the call of the series.

While we’re on the subject of the Sofabet comments section, we’ve noticed in previous years that as the series reaches the business end, the vibe in the comments can tend to become less collegiate and more tribal, as people get emotionally as well as financially invested in their take on what’s happening.

We want to stress what we think the Sofabet comments is all about. As far as we’re concerned, everyone who reads the comments has the same ultimate interest: in figuring out what’s happening, and in getting useful raw material to think things through for themselves and reach their own conclusions.

For us the comments section is at its best when everyone feels able to share theories in the confidence that disagreement will be respectful and victors will be magnanimous. It never fails to amaze us that this corner of the internet largely lives up to those standards, and thanks to all our commenters for making it so.

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165 comments to X Factor 2014: The hoo-ha over Haenow

  • Heisenberg

    This one’s for Stoney:

  • Hey guys Thanks for this but I hope this doesn’t jinx me. If she goes out before Ben I won’t have Made a single penny from her!

    • Odds are in your favour now, perhaps laying fleur in outright backing Ben top over, will guarantee you a profitable payout.

      Good luck

      • I know many will see it as stupidity but I see laying off some of the bet at this point as a waste. Gonna hold firm til the final. I wanna get the maximum win possible. This is my best position ive been in leading up up the latter stages of the competition. And if I lose the whole lot it won’t be the end of the world Thanks to getting on at juicy odds nice and early.

  • Dean F

    Your comments about Andrea are bang on.

    Regarding Ben, I agree to an extent that there are still positives, but I also think the judges comments are really negative right now, which to me is to ensure he does not beat Fleur from the win, but the positive treatment is also to suggest that he is doing really well in the votes and they know he will be a finalist. I think they do not mind if Ben does win, but their preferred option is Fleur, this the all out assault on her to get the win, while trying to do enough to ensure their plan B is getting enough negative treatment to stop him from picking up floating votes, but enough positive treatement fit for an X Factor finalist/runners up.

    What is telling with Andrea IMO is it seems they have probably had his vote under control since week 3 or 4. That is why they gave him the week 5 pimp slot (they didn’t have too if he was voting too well, see Janet Devlin) to ensure their primary target Paul was to go. In Week 6 they nuked him again because that was probably their set up for this week 7 where they were always going to try get him in the final 3. I am still with many on here that believed they wanted an Andrea/OTY bottom 2 with Stevi gone the first night, but their OTT staging for Stevi did him enough to survive one more night and kill their chance of getting OTY out before Andrea.

    SKs pimp slot and huge pimping was to ensure two things, they didn’t finish bottom of the flash vote first and foremost, and to get them above that bottom two ensuring Andrea slips in. I would be surprised if they escaped it by much. Their treatment compared to OTY has been ridiculous, even though OTY did have better treatment in the past few weeks than their opening weeks.

    • Woofie

      Not sure about SK. Would they have taken the same risk as they did in week 4 with “Everybody” when Simon had to back track his praising before the result on Sunday? I think SK must have gained momentum in the voting and that they were very confident that their investment in the pimping slot would not rebound with SK ending up in the bottom 3 over the weekend. They also took a longer term view with Mel’s comments building into the VT the following week. Note that the last two weeks Louis made no pleas for people to vote SK unlike OTY.

      • Dean F

        I think they definitely had enough confidence to ensure SK got above Andrea on hingsight, but it did take a pimp slot and huge pimping to do it compared to Andrea’s lukewarm comments from the middle of a flash vote running spot (which is the worst spot it seems).

        Have TPTB timed SKs rise to perfection? Maybe, but I doubt right now they are higher than 3rd or 4th in the votes above or below Lauren. Not 100% sure what they have done right since week 4 to get so many more votes, they do seem better as a group though it has to be said. Still I don’t regret putting money on them bottom two on Sunday just because of what we had already known (2 bottom 2s beforehand, and the pimp slot IMO was needed to keep them out of the bottom 2, TPTB did enough to ensure it)

  • Stoney – this is where laying off and Betfair come into their own. I have a very strong position on Fleur (got on at 18/1) but I have sacrificed some of that to get to a position where i now win whoever wins the contest. I still win 3x as much on Fleur as on anyone else – but I don’t actually need to place another wager to collect.

    With Fleur trading at 2.1 to lay on Betfair, you should be able to comfortably cover yourself. If however you have only backed her to be “Top Over” then you can back Ben at 3/1 and win whoever tops that contest.

  • Dean F

    Jukebox theme song choices

    Ben Haenow – Thinking Out Loud

    Andrea Faustini – Hero

    Fleur East – If I Ain’t Got You

    Lauren Platt – Don’t You Worry Child

    Stereo Kicks – Run

    Honestly would not be surprised to see them perform these in that order too. Surprised LP got chose that song over 1D, but I actually think its a song she can do something with, but depends on how producers spin it. Demo pleasing for Ben, think he will do well with Ed’s song. Andrea is demo pleasing also, but another samey diva song. His other song in the other theme will need to add something different or he could be in danger again this week. His demo has already shown to be neglecting him as it is. Maybe Fleur can make something of that song, as its not really for her, but maybe its time for her to show she can stand there and sing beautifully. Stereo Kicks, demo will be pleased, but as ever for a group, will be interesting to see what they do with it.

    In terms of strength I say Ben has got the best followed by SK/LP, then Fleur then Andrea only because it will be another same performance from him which is already what hes been criticised for. Donuts anyone?

  • The more acts they “pimp” in each show he less effective they are for each act.

    Ben is very likeable and I suspect he has been in the top 2 throughout, meaning he has never been danger to bottom 2.

    I am not sure fleur has always been as “safe” as Ben. I think that by pimping fleur and keeping Ben where he is, not too much of a deramp to damage him and not too much praise, it makes the pimping of Fleur more effective.

    If they were to Pimp Ben ABD Fleur I am sure Fleur would not clear b2 as easily. So best case scenario for producers here is keep Ben where he is, nothing too bad nothing too good. Making, Pimping fleur more effective, putting her in a position to sail to final.

    I am expecting fleur to be comfortable now, meaning If they want to they can turn it into a real competition and pimp Ben. Then they will have achieved making Ben look 5star and Fleur 5star perfect setting for the final.

    For what it’s worth, I think Ben will win.

  • Jessica Hamby

    For anyone who thinks there might be a Little Mix type twist in the tail you can still get 8/1 on an SK / Fleur top two. Order is irrelevant. Only at Ladbrokes.

  • EM

    How far does everyone think they can get the kicks? Runners up far like JLS? One Direction far? For me they’re much more Union J than JLS, there’s only so far they can push them with better performers in the show

    • Jessica Hamby

      I think they can get them first. They should be spending a couple of hours a day working on some dancing so they can become better on stage over the next two weeks. Then in the finalif you can get at least a couple if them to bust some proper dance moves (made to look even better by the pros around them) and have a Stereo Kicks v One Direction band off / duet thing I think they’d seem fresh and new compared to Fleur and A N Other and would walk it.

      • Marjorie

        It seems more likely that Simon would pair them with Fifth Harmony or Little Mix than One Direction, but anything’s possible. Chris can actually dance fairly well (is trained) and their performance of “Everybody” was praised before the show by Brian Friedman as the most “technically intense” performance a group has attempted on the show.

    • lolhart

      I would be very surprised if they finish first. I think 3rd if they are lucky. One thing that struck me about One Direction was they did have fans outside the teen girl demo during their time on the show. JLS were the same, even more so. Stereo Kicks don’t seem to have that appeal in a similar way to Union J and I think it’s too late to build up significant momentum for them. I still think we will see a trimmed down SK in a year’s time.

  • Jessica Hamby

    I don’t want to spoil your moment Stoney but I think Fleur may have peaked too soon. Where does she go from here?

    On a different track, why does everyone think Lauren is the next out? Surely Andrea is on the ropes and now is the time to take him. The only reason to keep him is drama but thar t means he’s in the seni final. If I was a producer I’d be very reluctant to take that risk.

    • I’ve already been credited with the call of the series so that’s good enough for me even if she comes up short 🙂

    • Dean F

      Andrea is also 9/2 with coral and sporting bet so just put a tad on that. If Andrea lands in the B2 he is a goner surely and 2 more samey performances won’t cut it unless producers decide to help a bounce for whatever reason. Lauren is the other choice if Andrea bounces but I think Lauren would stay over Andrea

  • Jessica Hamby

    If she falls short I think you have to give the award back.

    Sorry dude.

  • Marjorie

    It may be worth noting Simon’s blur of press about how “it still hurts that One Direction didn’t win their series” re: Stereo Kicks. If he wants to take on SK as a Syco act after the show, and it seems he does — if nothing else, they are a strong support/sibling act to Fifth Harmony, who have some traction but have delayed their album release three times and need consistent publicity boosts — then it would be a “crowning moment” for them to be winners.

    • Woofie

      It will be interesting how it is played out. The big difference between other groups and SK is James Graham. Although he always plays the pivotal role in the group I think they have played it down a little over the last two weeks, didn’t his microphone switch off at his key moment in big band week? Are they trying to avoid over exposure and keeping him to be used as a trump card? I noticed his image for the nick name sequence was him screwing his face up on high notes something that has been a point of conversation on social media, and which he has now controlled more in recent weeks. Run at boot camp was a big moment for him (and in turn the group). Be interesting how it works this week. Have other groups had such a strong singer who stands out a mile from the rest? And will it have a positive impact on the group or a negative impact on the group in the final leg of the competition?

      • Marjorie

        Little Mix has Perrie Edwards, who is “The James” of her group, it seems. Union J has Jaymi Hensley, similarly. One Direction were all sort of rubbish on X Factor and have remained on each other’s level since, although all have improved. Fifth Harmony heavily relies on Camila Cabello as their lead, and SK/tptb have already begun to draw James/Camila comparisons — and romance rumors.

        • Woofie

          Your right about Simon and SK. I notice every time they are called out in the result the camera cuts to him (and his grinning). If TPTB get them to the final he gets all the kudos… they made it clear that it was his idea for an eight piece which everyone has doubted it would work (all the judges, the TV critics/journalists, guests on XtraFactor… even the viewers…) Of course if all goes belly up Louis gets blamed.

          • Marjorie

            Despite 1D’s AMA nods, they are imploding and have one record left on their contract. Simon needs a new boy band act to focus on, and SK fit his bill perfectly. He’s exploring the kpop music model with them, too, and if anyone can make it work in the Western market, it’s Simon Cowell.

  • Ok I will gladly hand it back if she does. I said at the time I felt it was premature. I only want the accolades when she wins

    • Jessica Hamby

      I think it was a great shout, I really do, and anyone who went on her early, as you suggested, will have had a great time folliwing her so far. I just feel you can’t give the call of the series to a losing bet. It’s like giving goal of the season for hitting the post.

      If she wins, however, you’ll deserve it 100%.

    • just out of interest Stoney -what price did you get?

      My analysis shows that she was a best priced 50/1 to win the event on just one day – 5th October; she then dipped to 38/1 on 8th October and then touched 16/1 before retreating to 20/1 on 24th October. Since then she has been on a steady charge towards favourtism.

      In the Over 25’s she was a best priced 9/2 on 11th October.

      If you got close to best (or even better during mid-day trading) then my hat comes off big time!

      • Ok 16/1 was the price I took on her after live show 1 when I first called her the winner and 4/1 top over.
        People queued up to knock my suggestion down, and now people are queuing up to tell me they have backed her at high odds. While I don’t doubt that she has been backed by “scatter gamblers” I do know I was in a team of 1 on here calling her as the winner at that point. People who had a few quid on her at 40s and kept quiet up to this point have no doubt whatsoever also backed another 4/5 out more other winners. Im riding on a fleur win and a fleur win only. I waited til I was confident and backed her to the hilt. I have never felt the need and still don’t feel the need to back any other contestant.
        I was in a similar situation last year with nick Mcdonald although I covered that at a suitable point as it was obvious he was up against tbtb from the half way stage onwards.

        • Hey – hope you weren’t taking my comment as criticism. It was far from it – kudos seriously!

          I am a value-seeker/scatter gambler (call it what you want) as my aim is to make a profit on every series – that does mean though that i don’t make as much as i could do my taking a single position and sticking to it.

          My average Fleur wager is only 7/1 – i had just £7 on her at 38/1

          • looking at the Sofabet predictions chart…., Jessica and Phil had Fleur as 3rd … virtually everyone else had her finishing 10th or higher and the average was 15th!!! .. so there lies your corroboration!

          • Lol its all just banter mate. We’re all here to discuss ways of bashing the bookies!!! Ive gone in considerably heavier on my 16/1. Like I said I just had a good feeling about. Fleur. But ive also backed the last 3 runners up before that. So I’m due a nice juicy winner!

        • Jessica Hamby

          Subliminals shout:

          Fleur’s dress on Saturday, the one Cheryl said didn’t suit her, was a tiny, tight, short, silver bodycon dress.

          On Sunday she was in gold. Similar but somehow much more elegant and suited her better. A few of the girls at work commented that Cheryl was right and the dresd she was wearing on Saturday, the gold one, suited her much better.

  • Dean F

    Just some research of bounces from final 6. We know Andrea was 5th in week 7. So history

    2006 – Eton Rd B2 last 6, did not bounce B2 again last 5 but saved again

    2007 – Hope 5th of 6 last 6, did not bounce eliminated last 5

    2008 – JLS 5th of 6, bounced to 2nd week 8

    2009 – Olly Murs 6th of 6 bounced to 3rd week 8

    2010 – Mary Bryne 5th went to 4th which wasn’t enough of a bounce

    2011 – Amelia 5th of 6, bounced to first in week 8

    2012 – James Arthur 5th of 6 bounced to first week 8

    2013 – rough copy 6th of 6 bounced to 3rd week 8

    So from a last 6 save just 1 of the last 6 series an act hasn’t bounced to 3rd or higher in the last 5. However that was Mary Bryne who also got saved in a double elim against a novelty act and who was a diva performer whose act was getting too samey. Her trajectory has probably been similar to Andrea now.

    Also JLS, Olly, James had huge producer favouritism in those years while Amelia’s was just a strange year given her return. Andrea has no such luck

  • Heisenberg

    In this interview from 2012 Fleur talks about her first experience on X Factor as well as her career so far (with some performance clips). She comes across as very professional, dignified and hard working – I like her, but I still don’t think she can win without a successful vote transfer from Lauren.

    • Obviously ds isn’t concrete evidence. But in there forum poll oty were just edging fleur and since they got eliminated fleur is now polling more than double any of the remaining contestants. So I would imagine Fleur picked up most of oty app votes

      • Blake

        I think this was the problem with OTY, they would have liked to have tried to get them to the final. But seeing that their votes would likely end up going to Fleur and possibly Stereo Kicks. It just wasn’t a viable option if they were to continue pimping those two, so they had to go, unfortunately.

  • AlisonR

    Andrea will bounce this week. Bottom 2 will be Ben and Lauren. Fleur and SK have the momentum.

  • Natasha

    Fair shout Stoney, I should have listened to you when you kept droning on to me about Fleur all those weeks ago lol 🙂

  • Haha! I got a mention. Gonna have a massive w**k now. 😉

    Seriously though, this is my first year betting on XF after dabbling with Eurovision in the summer and having a few years of seeing the show for what it really is, which really started with the excellent Betsfactor site back in 2011. My friends and family have been genuinely amazed with my octopus-like accuracy in predicting this year. The insight, and the ability to share different ways people’s thoughts are heading has been really informative and, hopefully, it’s made plenty a people a few quid.

    Keep up the good work and I’ll certainly be back for Eurovision when this is all over.

  • Donald

    Great analysis as always, no mention of Lauren?

    This the way I see it, the three acts not been bottom two whole series includes Lauren so they are the current top three regardless what the bookies odds say.

    Fleur is certainly doing allot better than when she appeared with Addictive Ladies but is being pimped to high heaven by TPTB and as shown above in video is known quantity within the industry. Surprising not much mention of her past in the show. Just shows what we all dealing with to try make a few quid.
    God help the ordinary punter, the bookies must have been
    doing somersaults with full satchels last night with Andrea favourite backers money.

    Great call by Stoney but all the pimping needed worries me. It is great to be on any of the remaining acts at big prices, shows the importance to try build an early book and position with value before and during early live shows.

    As The Ferret said above Stoney strengthening your position to no loss is one good option. Money down is gone money in my books, money back is winning, It can go west very easy at times for any of us. The magic word is value and no or little loss position. That one of the reasons I really like and admire Sofabet, contributors here live in the real world when punting and are happy to play around a bit when the odds allow like this weekend just gone by but we all know what we dealing with and TPTB but plenty here will have a right logical proper goog go at the bookie at the same time.

    I think Lauren has done well and has not had all that much help yet, yet could be never I know well but the chance remains. Cheryl is popular judge and has a fan base that fits a Lauren demo. Lauren reminded me of a young Britney day one and still looks a pop star in the making. I topped up today at 10/1 as it is value. Lauren has not been bottom three yet, (I know not much support on Sofabet and appreciate reasons why) and until she is she has a much better chance than most. Great tone in her voice and she can actually sing really well when on it and in the zone. I stuck with Little Mix and it was some roller coaster than year. TPTB are well on form so far, Lauren more valuable than Ben in a final than Ben to help Fleur vote if it went to that decision. Ben, Fleur and Andrea fishing in the same vote pool.

    If it was my call Lauren is the only one would have signed out of the whole lot of them this year and that was the minute I saw her. Simon may run Syco but A&R at Sony are the ones that really matter. It has all been so so manipulated and nothing fresh with real potential except Lauren, no wonder they loosing the ratings wars

    I do wonder if TPTB weekend went to plan. They went to get Andrea out, went close but didn’t quite got there. That why they went double elimination most likely. If he was bottom of vote he was gone on deadlock. They will have to go again this weekend bounce or no bounce.

    Maybe Ben is coming back to the pack and not Lauren hence the de-ramp signals. I do think they will do what they can to get SK and Fleur to final. Simon ego will want him to have the winner but pimping will only get both so far, ultimately they have to go on and perform as well to win it.

    Two songs will not play to SK benefit, they can pull out a right clanger still.

    Is this weekend vote out public only??

    Where will Stevie and OTY votes go?

    No break out song yet for anybody, is that the next play for TPTB.

    Finally thanks to Daniel and Andrew for great steering so far, been a strange season with TPTB well on top of the situation, will be intriguing to see the weekly votes and how TPTB played it especially so far and how they plummeted the red hot favourite into the bottom two at record pace with lots of food.

    Good luck to all in the coming weeks, it is certainly a bit more exciting and intriguing than past few years at this stage but if it wasn’t for Sofabet and a punt would we all be watching 🙂

    App votes and double app votes the big big dangerous unknown as we all head into final few weeks of the season. Looks like TPTB and app toppled one favourite easy enough.

    • Marjorie

      “Run” may well be an attempt at a breakout song. Whenever XF-created groups reprise their audition song for the late-show lives, it runs in their favor with the judges and audiences (1D had “Torn” and Union J had “Call Me Maybe,” as well as “Love Story.”). Since “Run” also has an XF legacy through Leona, this could play into SK’s advantage.

      • Woofie

        If it’s SK then Lauren has to go this weekend and, if practical, without SK in the bottom 2. If Lauren goes who looks young and fresh? Simon’s ego doesn’t require him to have the winner if it’s SK as it was made clear it was his “crazy” idea to put together an eight piece boy band. Or are we crazy even entertaining this notion, or that it could be pulled off?

        • Donald

          It could easily be SK and Andrea bottom two. Lauren and Ben leading the way without allot of help from TPTB and Fleur has been pimped to high heaven for a place in the top three, what actual order they hold in the top three is pure guesswork. SK have been pimped to keep out of bottom two and Andrea de-ramped.

          To get Lauren or Ben into bottom two likely to take a serious nuke job and they have may have to keep pimping Fleur and SK this week. Depends on the gaps in the voting.

          Notice on the X factor site tonight the focus on homepage is SK and Lauren with Fleur further down, no sign of Andrea or Ben.

      • Donald

        Hi Marjorie,

        I doubt if Run is a breakout song for a boy band at this stage, was current and one of the biggest songs around for a few years for Snow Patrol when Leona did it.

        Beggars belief to me when they continually list as Leona Lewis song, not that I’m sure the writers in Snow Patrol don’t mind that bit too much. It was added to the special edition of Leona album so doubt if there would be publishing share on that one.

        It comes across as kind of safe selection with little or no risk for them, is familiar to a broad Saturday night audience, has X Factor legacy as you say with a winner, and plays to TPTB game of little risk and try keep them out of bottom two again. Run is probably one of their safest options available to try do that and edge them closer to the final. but actual breakout not so sure. that means the breakout song still to be found maybe.

        Lauren song bit of a worry (more continual Lauren worry), although John Martin acoustic version is fab, it is in B minor which is perfect for Lauren. She does get shrewd help here and there in quiet ways I notice although it not really all on screen.

  • Caro

    Re Ben – I agree that there have been more positives than negatives, though in no way has he been pimped.
    I think the criticism of song choices has been partly so that Simon can point out Ben’s versatility which is both a positive and a foil to Andrea being a ‘one trick pony’.
    Ben’s treatment in the group song was extremely positive – the choice of ‘Saturday night’s alright for a fight’ meant he was very much in his comfort zone, and the focus was solely on him as he sang his solo sat between Mel and Cheryl.
    I am biased because I like Ben (and yes, I am a middle aged woman and I do think he is hot), but I think he has played the game well. Early on he realised that you play along with the song choice and you take the criticism on the chin. He has also been the foil to those who were moaning about song choice (remember Jack Walton and the sofa chat?). He comes across as a nice guy (Louis – everyone says you are the nicest person in the house).
    Having said all that, he isn’t receiving the massive helping hand that Fleur and SK are getting, but he’s not getting a real deramping (so far) either, so I am thinking that the producers are happy to have him with a top 3 finish but not top.

    As for Lauren – as others have said, there were lots of end of journey aspects to her treatment this week, and I didn’t necessarily see the little brother as a positive. Go back a couple of weeks to the afternoon tea with Cheryl: the brother didn’t feature in that VT (though there was one cake stand too many, so I wonder if he was off camera? 😉 ). The next week we met him visiting the house and learn he was a dancer. This put the family in a different light for me – suddenly Lauren wasn’t just a girl who had turned up at X Factor because she liked singing, she was from one of those families who send their kids to stage/music/singing/dancing lessons (this may be completely untrue – but that’s what came in to my head at the time) and I wondered if this explained her apparent confidence. The next week we get the brother on stage, stealing the show, and Lauren shown talking about how ‘the Platts’ are taking over. I absolutely agree that he was meant to contrast with the ‘sisterhood’ represented by Fleur’s family being on stage. I can’t choose between her and Andrea (at least it was cake at the Embassy and not Ferrero Rocher) to go this week.

  • Runaway favourite at the start nuked whilst the CBW is pimped. Somewhere in Fountain Studios, a thousand knives are being sharpened…

  • No Caro – it is true — i understand that Lauren got to the shortlist to play the part of the Beale girl in EastEnders … she is stage school through and through

  • Woofie

    Perhaps I’ve had too much beer and it’s very late but playback the boot camp SK Run performance and note the audience reaction… was there a master plan?

  • KaraokeSauron

    Daniel – I hate to say it, but the vibe here has been (I think) excessively tribal for a good few weeks, driven by the irrational hatred of one excessively voluble poster for a certain boyband.

    I expect and concede this comment will be moderated… But the moderation in other cases has been nothing like as vigorous as in previous years.

    I’m not criticising you for that as I realise more posters/comments is good for the site overall. Well done Stoney… Looks like you’re going to be quids in, sir.

    • I been stung many a time at the final hurdle in all gambling markets mate so appreciate is not over til she is singing her winners song for the second time on finals night.
      re Donald. I totality understand why people hedge their bets but at this stage in the competition where against anyone in the bottom2 she would be saved I see no point in giving up any potential winnings. I will reassess once its down to public vote only. Which if going by last year was the final.

      • Jessica Hamby

        Well for a person with an irrational hatred I’ve been pushing a 50/1 (now 8/1) Stereo Kicks / Fleur top two bet as as part of a 3 bet combo that would cover any top two combination of Fleur / SK and OTY for a while now.

        When the facts change I change my mind.

        Do you?

    • Jessica Hamby

      In a way it’s nice that you credit me with so much influence but I think you’re mistaken.

      I can certainly be a bit sharp at times and I haven’t liked some of SK’s pronouncements about women but you’re rather belittling the other posters iwhen you say I’m their leader.

      I’ve had my share of snide remarks including some totally unprovoked disparagement from you so don’t cast me as the villain and make yourself out to be some kind of victim.

      Daniel’s last paragraphs are intrnded to draw a line under any porential scrapping and give us a reboot, not an excuse for you to run in, give someone a slap and run away again.

      Whatever it is, get over it. There’s no point in navel gazing and over analysing some imagined slight on the internet. Life’s too short.

    • EM

      Agree with KaraokeSimon’s point.

      • Jessica Hamby

        And for what it’s worth I’ve been called a liar and told I’m cracking up and various bits of other nonsense in the last season so as I said to Karaoke Sauron, let’s not pretend I’m the villain and everyone else is the victim here.

        However, if you want I witch hunt I’ll go and get my broomstick and pointy hat.

      • Natasha

        I also agree with KaraokeSimons point.

        It’s all turning a bit DigitalSpy on here unfortunatley this year.

        • sistermym

          Agreed as well and I have to say I have been nearly turned off Sofabet all together because of the constant jarring comments. As it is this is only my 3rd time posting this year. I have sadly become a lurker after following this site for many years.

      • EM

        Apols to KaraokeSauron for getting his name wrong – blame the avatar!

        • Dean F

          I’ve been posting a lot more the past week as been on holiday from work and slightly bored, but apologies if I offended anyone, don’t think I have.

          I was a bit OTT with my defence of Lauren on the weekend, though rightly so in the end, but I was wrong about SK. I was more defending Lauren as I felt she did enough to survive. I will happily admit when her time is done.

    • Hi Sauron, good to see you back – if this is how you feel about one commenter (who you don’t name, but I’m inferring it’s Jessica), or about the site’s moderation this year, why don’t you reply to the person directly, or email Daniel directly, rather than finger-pointing?

      I do wonder why people keep jumping down Jess’s throat – maybe she goes a bit overboard sometimes, for sure, but I’m sure I do/used to too, and yet I never got this flak from people; she’s no more voluble than I was on here in 2012 and probably less risque. I do wonder if it’s because she’s an outspoken woman on a male-dominated comments area. There have definitely been other commenters this year who were considerably more confrontational/aggressive than Jess but who haven’t being singled out in the way that she has.

      Going back to the show: they basically tarred and feathered Stevi, didn’t they? It was just excess, and sexual in a way that’s a bit too much for teatime – it made me go “ugh” even though if I’d been there I’d probably have been licking it off him. Andrea didn’t look best pleased about being in the B2, he had a right diva pout on. He’s learnt that the first time in the bottom hurts and maybe he’ll learn that in another context once he leaves the show.

      An eccentric young foreign bear turns up in London, naive to the ways of the world, is taken in by the locals, has adventures that often revolve around food and becomes a minor celebrity. Paddington or Andrea Faustini? He better have some marmalade sandwiches in his VT next week…

  • Lauren is too young to sing Don’t You Worry Child (she’s a child ffs), while Ben is too old (not to mention gritty) to sing Thinking Out Loud. Deramp? Andrea gets same old, same old, while the other two are gonna coast through to next week.

    • Stu

      The lyrics to Lauren’s song are actually “My father said don’t you worry, don’t you worry child, cos heaven’s got a plan for you” – easy mistake to make though!

  • Donald

    It been interesting to have a quick look at pre -season predictions on Sofabet. . One has 5 still in the race and had Stevie 6th for good measure, few with 4 of the 5 still running. Not many at all saw Fleurr in top 5 not to mind being favourite at this time and of course the Sofabet pick still in the running. Thrilling finish ahead.

    • Jessica Hamby

      Who is it that’s still got all five in the race Donald?

      That person must be really on the ball. I say we should make them leader of the forum.

      😀

      • Donald

        You have Jessica, well done, few have four of last five and had most of top nine or ten. I still think it all to play for. Picking the actual winner now from 5 left not even easy today.

        I don’t say too much on here outside actual show specifics unless word from few trusted sources, as it best to let people have open mind on each act and watch TPTB in action. I was aware Fleur had been with DJ Fresh and has been managed by a good friend of Simon. I didn’t really rate her as high as they are pushing, she does not have that natural raw talent huge diva vocal like a Beyoncé Kelly Roland etc., or X Factor wise, Leona or Alexandra. Not far off them but not quiet there and Fleur is that bit too old now for a teenage market. That what my decision was based on.

        It’s far far from stroll up audition nowadays. OTY manager has a song on Cheryl new album but as big as the show is it failed to get the eighteen year old artist all the labels were after this year.
        Beating the bookie is all that really matters here and that is far from easy to maintain and achieve. Year to year, event to event, Daniel and Andrew do a great consistent job, they might let you join them 😉 I do giggle at a bit of well intended enthusiastic mischief on here now and again.

    • Daniel

      We always emphasise that the 1-16 predictions are just a bit of fun, mainly because it’s easy for things to go completely awry, as Andrew and I know only too well! So that is quite the feat this year, Jessica. Well done.

      • Jessica Hamby

        If you take Andrea off top spot, slot him in below Ben and bump everyone else up one place you get what I currently think will be the actual top 6.

        I’m a little annoyed with myself for putting Andrea top. I just reread the “How to watch the X Factor” article from last year and it explicitly talks about acts that are favourites with the viewers but not wanted by tptb because of the difference between the X Factor audience the market for music acts.

        Oh well, good lesson for next year!

      • Jessica Hamby

        It’s funny. I must have been watching top much x factor. Rereading your post all I can see is that it doesn’t mean anything, nobody really cares and it’s all down to luck but well done anyway.

  • EM

    Today’s big realisation from me is that I met Fleur two years ago. So thought for the day is look at everyone you meet today, they may be winning X Factor 2016

  • Scott

    Don’t You Worry Child? Not One Direction? Wow. Lauren’s in trouble.

    If she slows it down she’ll be accused of being boring. If she sings it at the speed of the original it’s a hilarious mismatch and will not play well with middle England.

    Since she’s almost certainly going out anyway it would be good if Brian Friedman did this theme – it would win the Scottish vote: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IA3JH5tfTYg 🙂

    As it stands, here’s how I rate each contestant’s chances:
    * Fleur – Plan A. Confident, a potential commercial success and a feel-good story for the show. Tamera with experience and reliability. Only difficulty is winning over the traditionally female vote, hence the appearance of “real women” during I’m Every Woman.
    * Ben – Plan B. Good-looking bloke who can sing a bit, but the raw edge to his voice may put some people off. Potentially still a niche in there for him to exploit. Could be the final’s Luke Friend, all going to plan.
    * Andrea – Plan Nicholas McDonald (second/third). The producers will now think they’ve got control of his popularity. At the same time it would not be a disaster for him to be in the final as he can clearly sing and they want that to be a decent show (see Richard Betsfactor’s theory on why Tamera had to go, and go fast, last year).
    * Stereo Kicks – The One Direction Memorial third/fourth place. The demographic which is the potential audience for Stereo Kicks isn’t watching The X Factor, that’s what their mums watch. But if they get far in the contest Syco can launch them as a credible commercial prospect – see One Direction. Final appearance preferable, but Andrea getting there instead is no disaster for the producers.
    * Lauren – doomed. Clearly neither Nicholas McDonald (second) or Lucie Jones (lost in a controversial sing-off, as I thought may happen last weekend, a couple of poor performances which judges covered up have left her completely dispensable. There’s also a danger she nicks some of Fleur’s audience as well. We don’t know the other song yet but I wouldn’t be surprised to see an all-out nuking this weekend to save the chosen one/ones.

    I can’t see past a Stereo Kicks vs Lauren final two this weekend, at which point Stereo Kicks will be saved and the bounce may well take them to the final.

    • Marjorie

      A few teens on Twitter who claim to know friends of Jake Sims are reporting that SK were pulled into production offices and told they’ll be getting third, so you may be right about the bounce into the finals.

      • Jessica Hamby

        I suppose it’s possible but the internet is known for people making stuff up. I can’t understand why they would tell them that, even if it is true.

        What purpose would it serve? A possible alternative explanation is that the Twitterarti are hoaxing.

        I suppose we’ll have to wait and see.

  • Heisenberg

    I’m sure we will all see the funny side of OK magazine’s latest front cover:

    http://goo.gl/HjWCkH

  • Inclined to agree. The show isn’t fixed, it’s engineered – which is the whole r’aison d’etre of this site. They could do anything if the public don’t play ball.

  • lolhart

    I’m not surprised the hatchet job on Andrea is working. I was chatting to some work colleagues who still watch the show casually and they all said they liked Andrea in the beginning, but they’ve gone off him because he’s always eating (a reoccurring theme in his VTs) and his facial expressions (Simon has mentioned this more than once I think). I did find amusing in Daniel’s article the bit about Mel and her comments to Fleur and SK. I’m also assuming since she was desperate to join the panel that she didn’t have as provision that she’d have an act in the final.

  • Boki

    I’m little confused by Lauren’s choice, did we expect her fans to choose this instead of 1D? Probably not.
    Does this mean that her fans are more mature or that this ‘don’t worry’ song was much more popular (have no idea honestly) or that the song choice is also ‘engineerd’ by tptb?

    • Donald

      Hi Boki, good your still rockin’ it was not in the top 40 selling singles of the year last year but was number one for two weeks, so more a radio airplay hit with allot of Radio 1 support. Allot of EDM tracks are like that and even as big as some make EDM out to be very few tracks really cross over to a broader audience. That one did but not neraly into the market like the Avicii track did. Song choice is vey engineered so the voting probably counted for little or nothing.

      The acoustic version is decent. and slow songs been getting her votes. Be interesting to see what second song choice is and where in running order. She might get a pimp slot! not holding my breath on that one though. The strugglers seem to need the good slots still which is great as doing no real damage except keeping them in and TPTB occupied.

      Lauren has had to have been polling well to avoid the drop with treatment past few weeks and reasonably safe to say those votes going no where at this stage regardless of TPTB. hard to keep faith at times but sticking in there.

      My big win book is Lauren or Ben to win, followed by Louis top judge and I laid Andrea but looks like not enough..I have no money at all on Fleur or no lay yet. My Stevie elimination war chest didn’t get used last weekend but no where real safe to put it yet.

  • Heisenberg

    Two different songs, two different VTs and two rounds of judges’ comments provide even more opportunity than usual for producers to successfully navigate a preferred sing-off scenario. History suggests that targets rarely evade the snipers in a two song format (Maloney is the anomaly in recent years).

    As a result, I’m approaching this week with utmost confidence that they will get the desired bottom pair, however, predictions are far from easy at this stage when stakes are high, the final is within touching distance and of course, voting figures remain pure speculation.

    Also, clouding my judgement is the real possibility of a deliberately engineered sing-off appearance/save by a favoured act, a position for which there are multiple candidates – not to mention the conundrum of vote transfer implications.

    I feel like Cumberbatch trying to crack the Enigma code.

  • Stu

    I think the Jukebox song choices this week are only going to hugely benefit Stereo Kicks and Ben. I thought Fleur would have a ‘Listen’ style moment with ‘Family Portrait’ which I can’t see her getting with the Alicia Keys number. Still, with enough pimping and momentum, she should be fine this week.

    Should we trust the efficiency of the producers and expect Andrea to fall into the bottom two again? I’m of the opinion that the producers f***ed up last weekend with Stevi staying over Only The Young on Saturday (although that begs the question of why was Stevi on late once again with a full-on routine). I know bookies odds shouldn’t be used as a sole indication for the voting but the speed of how Fleur’s odds shortened in the win market over the weekend makes me think she comfortably topped the vote over the weekend. Likewise, Lauren is now outsider to win on some sites despite being one of the three to never land in the bottom two, I’m wondering whether she just scraped through.

    I’m going to call a Lauren vs Andrea sing-off this week with Andrea going with Stereo Kicks in the bottom two next week and then bouncing as high as they can in the final – I still think they are joint Plan A with Fleur.

    • Phil

      I think ‘Family Portrait’ for Fleur would have jarred completely with the family girl and big sister image they’ve been giving her these last few weeks.

      • Stu

        The lyrics of Family Portrait are “In our family portrait we look pretty happy, let’s pretend and act like it comes naturally” – it’d be an interesting way to feel sympathetic towards Fleur even if it’s just a song.

  • Stu

    By the way, I’m tempted to place a bet on Stereo Kicks to win. Their odds look so tempting and far too long considering they’re highly favoured. I’ve been thinking it for a few days now (even when they were 33/1 behind Only The Young) but I kind of want to put a bet on before they shorten even more. Their support seems to be growing at a fast pace (going from serial sing-off survivors in the early stages to being one of the safe acts every week).

    • I would hazard a guess that the kicks are just about holding their heads above water hence the publicity tricks. While I can recognise the are gaining momentum i believe this is only due to vote transfer from acts that have left and I don’t see them gaining any more from other acts going before the final.

  • Dean F

    With regards to this weekend, we have to assume Fleur and Ben are the top 2 in the vote, or at least will be by the end of this week, and so there are 3 scenarios that can be played

    Scenario 1 – TPTB do their utmost to stop an Andrea bounce, get Lauren into the bottom 2 and give another huge pimping to SK to ensure they stay above the bottom 2. This is a great option, only if possible (chances are SK are below Lauren, and just above Andrea in vote who is due a bounce) for TPTB. The reason is no matter who they save out of Andrea or Lauren, it would not look half as bad if next week they do a sing off and save SK over whichever stays.

    Now in this scenario who would leave? I did think at first Andrea, but there are options to come into play. Firstly if Andrea is B2 this week, TPTB know they have his vote under control and they can continue that into next week with the knowledge of already stopping his bounce, ensuring they get rid of him comfortable in the SF. More of an unknown is to keep Lauren, who has the possibility to bounce, and probably has more of a basic fanbase than Andrea now anyway (as shown by polling higher, but not sure by how much). It would be a risk to keep Lauren in case she somehow bounces from 4th/5th to 2nd on her first bounce. It has/can happen. So keeping Andrea to ensure safe passage for their desired final may be better. However, other thing we have to think is they don’t mind if Lauren bounces to the final, but the whole end of journey feel and Heisenberg’s transfer vote theory to Fleur means right now I think they may want her gone more than Andrea who is under their leash.

    Scenario 2 – Andrea v SK, for me this is their worst scenario if indeed their desired final 3 is Ben, Fleur and SK. Reason is if they save SK then have SK v Lauren as a semi final sing off it would look ridiculous to save SK, who have had 3 sing offs to Lauren who has had none and clearly has more of a fanbase, but that has not stopped TPTB before. Other option though is to save SK try and bounce them over Lauren and then at the last minute on Sunday decide their wont be a sing off (done in the past)

    Scenario 3 – Lauren v SK, easy save for SK over Lauren and a probable save of SK over Andrea in the semi, which doesn’t look as ridiculous as Andrea would have already had a sing off appearance too.

    ————————————————————-

    All scenarios are based off the assumption they want a Ben, Fleur and SK final, or expect it. We have to think with Fleur and SK the high pimping means so while with Ben he is voting well that is why his treatment as it is. Lauren had the end of journey feel to Sunday, plsu the possible vote transfer to Fleur. TPTB have Andrea under control.

    Given all of this we have to feel the best option is to sink Lauren to ensure she is in the B2. If she somehow gets a pimping now I would be very very surprised. Sink Lauren, then if either Andrea or SK go in there with her they can work on that to get SK to the final. If its Andrea v Lauren there are a wide range of possibilities open to them on what they choose to do, but the best option for an SK final may be to save Andrea as they may not be sure what kind of bounce Lauren can get. Does anyone disagree with this?

    • Stu

      Great post! I do disagree with one point though and that is saving Andrea over Lauren. Lauren being in the final wouldn’t be a disaster in my opinion even if she is polling better in general than Andrea. Everything so far has been pointing to getting Andrea out of the competition as quickly as possible – obviously they couldn’t realistically dump him against Stevi. Simon’s “obviously you’re safe” comment on Saturday to his smirk when Andrea was in the bottom two heavily points to him being the main target. I don’t think Lauren is in any more danger of bouncing from a sing-off than Andrea is. I think it’ll be a real mission to control his bounce this week and if the producers actually manage it, they will take him down surely. They wouldn’t want to run the risk of Andrea being in the final and if Andrea gets into the semi, that’s when fans really begin to vote because it goes from being “a vote for them singing next week” to “a vote to get them in the final”.

      • Dean F

        Yes, at this stage if we assume SK are just floating above water, the best option is to ride the wave of an Andrea bounce (but not too much that they cant reign him back in) and get an SK v Lauren sing off this weekend. SK can either get a huge bounce to the final or can be saved v Andrea in the semi. The worst option this weekend for me is SK v Andrea as it means the likelihood is they need an SK v Lauren/Ben sing off next week and it would look ridiculous if they save SK again.

        I just feel if Andrea doesn’t bounce, they have to be fairy confident he wont bounce after a 2nd save too (though this sometimes generates sympathy which ensures a bounce)… so like you I would be undecided at this minute who would go between Lauren v Andrea. Probability is, as you say, Lauren in the final is not a total disaster if she did bounce so she may still get saved, but at this stage they can be fairly confident of ensuring she does not bounce.

        Last 5 bounce to final 4 very rarely sees an act bounce from 4th/5th to 1st or 2nd. Normally whoever is saved in the last 5 are normally at the very least in the bottom 2/eliminated the following week. Recent examples include Luke Friend, Cher Lloyd, Union J and Misha B all in the past 3 years.

        • Stu

          I see your points but remember that Andrea isn’t like Luke, Cher, Union J or Misha. He was an odds-on favourite to win a week or two ago. His bounce could easily be more like James Arthur’s. Maybe I’m completely overestimating Andrea’s fanbase but I’m sure the producers were mainly relying on Andrea’s fanbase being complacent over the weekend to ensure he ends up in the sing-off and therefore making him look far less popular than he is.

  • Heisenberg

    If it is Andrea vs Lauren – who goes?

    Watch Cowell very closely from 1:00 to 2:00 before answering this question.

  • Martin

    At this point I believe that if they want Andrea out this weekend then out he shall be. I haven’t heard much talk of any sympathy towards him since Sunday.

    My interest this weekend is in Stereo Kicks. I don’t think it’s any coincidence that three of the five acts left have already reprised an audition song. I’m of the opinion that this can be very beneficial – Fleur did it well, but lauren and Andrea not so much. I can’t even remember ben’s audition song but they’ve been very careful not to do a ‘moment’ with him so far, they quite easily could have done so with Man in the Mirror or I Will Always Love You, but chose no to. This weekend, SK will be doing their first ever performance song again, even more ‘special’ in that the public decided that they wanted to see it again (as if there was really any other option). I think this week they will be pimp slotted, halo’d and ovationed to the hilt, their ‘turning point in the competition’.

    I’m also interested in where Union J fit into this. There’s three guests again this weekend – that’s only happened this series when there’s been a double elimination on. Will Union J be on on Saturday to break up the two lots of performances or all crammed in on Sunday? Seems like an odd choice of act to have on, they weren’t on last year when their only hit was more fresh in the publics mind and to shoehorn them into a weekend when they already have Queen and Ella on?! May just be me, and they probably just want to push their single so they can say they tried but there may be an agenda relating to SK in there somewhere. I’m just not sure where.

  • EM

    My midweek observations:

    1. Am I alone in feeling like the great unknown is Lauren’s vote? We know Andrea is close to the bottom, we know the Kicks have been there too. Fleur, Ben and Lauren haven’t and it feels (to me) like the Overs have been topping the vote but can’t decide if Lauren has been solid and up there or close to danger. I suspect she’s started highly and dropped down but I couldn’t say for sure.

    2. Observing “real viewers” the past couple of weeks has been fascinating – just as the producers have planned they’re loving Fleur more and more every week and finding Andrea more and more dull and off putting.

    3. How far can they get da Kicks and how far do they want to get them. I’d guess second is where they’d want them to stop (not having the pressure of winning) but will the Great British Public play along?

    • Martin

      I would agree with most of that. I think ideally, they’d like SK to win. They’ve not had a boy band win prior and I think simon would like to ‘correct’ 1D not winning. He also is probably well aware that 1D are close to over and a win for his new boy band would catapult them into taking over where 1D left off in the most effective way.

      SK and Fleur have have similar exemplary treatment. SK have been a harder sell and needed a bigger push in the early weeks, hence why they fell behind. They’ve gained momentum now and if the treatment continues I can see them at least top three. The producers have been particularly efficient this year, I have no doubt that if they can get Ben under control (which seems to be happening now) before the final they could get him in third with SK and Fleur top two.

    • Lauren’s vote is indeed the biggest unknown. I would be surprised if she wasn’t in the bottom two this week, after all the producers have been doing to gradually depress her vote. But equally, I would also not be surprised if she got through. Her Facebook likes in particular were through the roof this week, perhaps artificially? She was doing as well as the top few on iTunes too.

    • Donald

      Far from alone EM on that one. it is the one big absolute unknown and to make it even more complicated we have no previous experience or any previous analysis on the app voting and how it plays on running order and vote swings. Only part very apparent has been pimping of Fleur but even with Fleur we don’t know, she could have been doing well and they have pushed to get her to the front or they had to pimp.

      I have liked Lauren all the way since I first saw her so bit biased but heart does not rule my head when punting on X – Factor. Lauren had Happy week one, that was a big song and intention from TPTB, bound to have got allot of fans and votes. I reckon they won’t have gone away despite recent weeks and the way TPTB have carried on. Cheryl is a very popular judge who no doubt draws some votes and support for Lauren similar demo stuff, Essex acts have a decent record in the show and Cheryl did say at the start she would have the winner. A big statement that hasn’t come of the rails yet. That the positives but TPTB carry on is puzzling. From a punting point of view no hard facts and personal hunch that Lauren has serious potential, look at what Cher Lloyd did in US. Simon not stupid when it comes to $ and market wide open for a young Britney type act. She must have been well ahead to still be top three with recent treatment. I think she is more likely to survive again than not unless they really nuke her. Decent % OTY fans more likely to go Lauren and not SK.

      Fleur has gained support without doubt but I am still not 100% convinced, so much pimping but has not been bottom two either so it is all guess work but it looks like they have had to push her more than Ben or Lauren to be top three.

      SK will need allot of help and someone new will have to be seriously nuked I reckon if they want to keep SK out of bottom two this week. Have they really softened Ben and Lauren enough to do that? Andrea is gone when they want to now, reckon they go in for the kill this weekend.

      It is a real wait for show week in my books.

      Who in the final would give SK best chance of victory? They will keep pushing them that for sure and Fleur with them but if the public not playing ball that where it will come unstuck. They can’t give away Louis other new boy band signed to Sony at the minute I heard. That demo is 1D and 5SOS obsessed right now.

      Sorry for long reply, very good and valid questions.

  • Curtis

    Stereo Kicks vs Andrea match-up, I see SK to win that for 13/8 on William Hill. I struggle to not be tempted by that, surely SK are going to make the final and Andrea is going to be 4th (if things go to plan for the producers, which I think they will)

    • EM

      That is very nearly free money unless there’s a big shock

    • Dean F

      Honestly from the people I talk too about the XF the only people voting for Andrea now are surely the ones who have put money on him? Lol

    • Jessica Hamby

      Given the massive levels of producer support that SK have received I think it would be very dangerous to call this bet free money. In my opinion they want to push the band as far as they possibly can. I don’t believe that falling into b2 is part of the plan for them at this stage and at 13/8 you will have to make a substantial investment to make a decent profit.

      Is it really worth the risk? I would call it a speculative punt, when there are two other acts (Ben and Lauren) that have had much less favourable treatment, and not just last week but for a few weeks in a row.

      I don’t want to undermine you but in my honest opinion to call this bet free money is madness and an invitation to disaster. Personally I wouldn’t touch it with your money.

      • EM

        Totally get your point which is why I caveated it with words like “shock” and “nearly”

        • Jessica Hamby

          I will be shocked if SK end up b2.

          • DeanF

            However SK have had huge support for a reason and probably to keep them above water. Out of interest how do you think SK are voting in comparison to Lauren and even Andrea? I think the percentage points involved are marginal

          • Which is why the match bet for them to beat Andrea looks like ‘free money’
            I won’t be shocked for them to hit bottom 2 in the next few weeks but the only way they leave is against Fleur. Which is never happening

          • Jessica Hamby

            Well if you think they’re just keeping their heads above water then I suppose it makes sense.

            I don’t. I think they’re polling quite high, second or third. I think they’re getting huge levels of support because, like Fleur, tptb want them in the final. I think tptb want them to win.

            You don’t just give huge support to acts you want to do well that you think are failing. You also give huge levels of support to acts you want to do well that are doing well, to keep them up and boost them even more. Ariel may be the market leader but it doesn’t stop advertising.

            People who I know that liked Ben a lot in the beginning still like him as a “nice bloke” but described his performance on Saturday as crap and rubbish. They thought the song choice was stupid.

            It’s easy to forget that most of the audience don’t watch the show like we do. They don’t see the subtleties of producer support. To them, Fleur looked great because she is great, and Andrea looked like a greedy boring gurner because that’s what he is. They think that basically it’s a fair competition, and they’re the ones that are voting.

          • Jessica Hamby

            Anyway, for all I know you could be right. I just think the “free money” call is a dangerous one to make in this situation. I don’t think it’s anything like as clear cut as that. It’s a temptation to think the result is guaranteed and I honestly don’t think it is.

      • I have taken 11/8 on the basis that sk have got at least 1 save left in then against anyone but Fleur wheras Andrea goes against anyone else when he hits b2

        • Jessica Hamby

          I don’t get this at all.

          First, is my assumption that a match means that two named acts need to be b2 and you have to get the correct save/elim result?

          If so, and you think Andrea is going b2 and will be eliminated when he gets there, why are you betting on him in a match up at 11/8 when you can have him at 9/2 to be eliminated against anyone? It doesn’t make sense. You’ve got a more complicated bet with a lower return.

          Am I missing something here?

    • Jessica Hamby

      Am I misundlerstanding “match up”? What does that mean? I have assumed it means both in b2 but re-reading I think maybe it means something else. Please clarify.

      • it means “who progresses furthest in the competition”

        True odds (extrapolated from the outright odds) are 1/2 Andrea 2/1 SK … so on the surface the WillHill match up is poor value …. however given what we know about TPTB then perhaps those odds should be reversed?

        Either way, right now it is 8/13 Andrea 5/4 SK

        I prefer taking the 13/1 about SK outright – with a mind to lay off when they drop to 5/1 or less

        • 6/5 now. Sk will be favourite in this match bet by the weekend Mark my words.
          Also im monitoring fleurs odds closely and gradually she is going odds on with each bookmaker. I expect that trend to continue and even money will not be available by the next live show. The money is flooding in for her.

        • Jessica Hamby

          Thanks Ferret. I get it now.

        • Luke

          If you price up match bets as a derivative of outright prices and back accordingly you’ll go broke pretty quickly.

        • Curtis

          I’ve lumped some money on this match bet at the higher odds. I still think it’s value at 6/5. Deriving match bet odds from the outright odds is a flawed system because Andrea’s potential position has more variance than SK’s in my opinion. SK have basically 0% chance of winning, compared to like 5% for Andrea, yet they’ll still probably beat him.

          Backing SK now and laying them later is probably a mathematically more perfect way of playing the game, but for a gambling simpleton like myself the ease of just shoving money on a 13/8 match bet you’ll probably win cannot be ignored!

  • Caro

    Has anybody got any theories about how the free voting app is affecting things this year? Does the fact that many young people are glued to their smart phones mean, for example, that use of the app vote should favour SK and Lauren as opposed to those appealing to an older demographic? I know that we don’t know how or even if social media popularity relates to votes (and there is indeed some thought that there’s no correlation) but I thought it might be worth having a look at the relative popularity of the Twitter and Facebook accounts.

    Twitter followers (I’ve rounded numbers)
    The XFactor 5.4m
    Stereo Kicks 206.3k
    Andrea 195.7k
    Ben 186.4k
    Lauren 183.4k
    Fleur 111.8k

    Facebook
    The XFactor 8.9m
    Ben 167k
    Lauren 161k
    Stereo Kicks 153k
    Andrea 89k
    Fleur 57k

    A few interesting variations there – and Andrea is very popular on Twitter!

    • Stu

      Could the lack of Fleur likes/followers be because more viewers watch the audition rounds and are more likely to follow/like a contestant from an audition than half way through the series? Obviously Fleur only really started getting positive airtime from judges houses so she’s probably playing catch-up. I don’t know, maybe I’m wrong, just a thought.

    • EM

      If you take some very broad brush figures and say Facebook is for ages 30+ and Twitter is younger you can start to see the demographic appeal of the acts in those figures.

      As for the app remember smartphones are expensive and ownership is highest in older ages which ties in with what we already know about the X Factor audience and voter.

      I think the big change with app voting is that instead of putting in one vote for your favourite you can spread votes round more. In theory that could help second favourite acts like Rebecca, Nicholas etc get votes when they previously would have got none but we’ll see.

      • basic android phone that runs the App is sub £50 now – all the teenagers i know have got at least that.

        May explain OTY going out though if their demo is U10s 😉

        • Jessica Hamby

          I suspect OTY’s demo was probably older people who liked the “good clean fun” aspect of OTY, as well as the fact that they’re all quite good looking.

          It was a bit Saturday night variety show really, wasn’t it. In years gone by they probably would have got a show of their own on BBC making cheesy jokes and doing a few comedy sketches and interviews between songs (and always a performance with one of their guests for the final number).

        • EM

          £50 is still expensive! I’m not saying da youth don’t have smartphones but if you look at the ownership figures there’s a higher penetration with older ages, which in turn matches the shows demos. Like I say the fascinating thing is that where someone used to have one or no votes they now have 5 a week – that’s got to be interesting.

      • Caro

        I don’t know about the age of users stats for Twitter, but for Facebook users here are some:
        32.3% are 18-24
        26.6% are 25-34
        13.2% are 35-44

  • Stu

    Just a thought: regarding app votes – are they going to be included in the final breakdown of voting statistics? Voting statistics have only had to become public knowledge after the ITV voting scandal in 2007/08. The show isn’t necessarily obliged to disclose the app votes, are they?

    • Stu

      Although I guess if they didn’t combine the app votes, the released phone voting statistics would look nothing like the final outcome so it’d make the show look like a fix. Maybe I should have kept this thought to myself!!

      • eurovicious

        It’s actually a really good question. I guess they’ll still release the percentages but the number of votes will be much higher than past years.

  • Donald

    Only observation on app voting is they seem to have been depressing it as opposed to full on promotion of it on air. They started all bells and whistles about it and how many voting etc. They seemed to have backed off that the past few weeks when one would have thought they’d be doing all sorts of promo activity on it. It has not been heavily cross promoted with the app stores either. They also introduced closing lines quickly on Sunday and leaving three acts hanging there. Have thought all that stuff a bit odd.

    Die hard fans mostly likely to give their favourite all five votes.

  • Woofie

    On the jukebox song selection on the app, unless I missed something, you had to choose a song for all acts not just one act (a favourite). Could there have been some tactical selections?

    • Stu

      I think Andrea’s was definitely tactical. I don’t know why on earth his fans would choose a Mariah Carey power ballad when he’s been accused of being predictable. I think all of the others were seen as the best suited to each act – except maybe Lauren’s. That song is a car crash waiting to happen – John Lewis’d or not.

      • EM

        Although the judges can’t accuse him of a predictable song choice when the public have chosen it…

      • Martin

        Without being disrespectful to the majority of people voting for these songs, surely there’s not enough people wanting to tactical vote against Andrea to produce this result?! To me, it seems more likely that “Hero” was the most well known songs of Andrea’s choices and the casual voter plumped for that one. After all, Kanye West isn’t the most popular man in the world and “Heartless” isn’t one of his better known songs, is it? I can’t remember what his other choice was though.

  • Woofie

    Not 100% sure (should have made a note!) but you had to choose for Andrea first and I think SK was last… Of course there is the possibility if you are a fan of Andrea you might have thought you made your selection and closed the app…

  • A much better way of doing this would be to only allow every to vote on one acts song choice

  • fused

    I don’t know if it’s anything to do with the app vote, but one thing that is different this year is the sympathy bounce doesn’t seem to work in the same way it did before. Other years you could predict that an act who survived the sing-off would be safe the next week then in the bottom 2 again the week after, but not this year.

    Stephanie, Jay and Stevi have all been in the bottom 2/3 two weeks in a row, in fact we know that Stephanie and Jay didn’t move positions at all, Stephanie was 14th both weeks and Jay was 8th both weeks. Stevi avoided being last in the vote this week, but if he did bounce it wasn’t enough to get him out of the sing-off.

    Then you have OTY landing in the bottom 2 in week 3 and then never landing there again until they finished last in the vote in week 7.

    The closest we’ve had to the usual pattern is Stereo Kicks ending up in the bottom 2 in week 2, surviving week 3 and landing in the sing-off again in week 4… but that was a week when it was a bottom 3, had it been just a single elimination that week, they might well have avoided it, and we do know that Jack and Lola got fewer votes than them. In any case, since then they’ve lasted 3 weeks without landing there.

    In contrast, it does seem like being earlier in the running order can still be detrimental. With the exception of Blonde Electra, everyone we know who finished last in the vote (Stephanie, Jack, Paul, Jay, OTY) was on early. You wouldn’t have thought that going on early would be bad when the lines are open from the start and you have some free votes, but there you go.

  • To wrap my head around this, I’m trying to list the reasons behind Fleur’s short outright odds:

    1. Massive producer favors
    2. Never been bottom 2
    3. Great DS poll performances

    Are there other factors here that I’m missing? Surely pure performance appeal can’t be a strong contributing factor, as that really hasn’t changed much since she was 50+ to win.

    • David Cook

      Everyone else (bar SK) being nuked?

    • Im a nut shell everything you mentioned plus topping the vote this weekend no 2 ways about it. Bookies have insiders

      • If insiders actually are on the market, that will obviously affect the odds. But do we have historical indication that that’s actually the case? Simply odds shortening heavily (like Fleur this week) isn’t really enough imo. It should be pretty easy to check after the season has ended whether the movements reflected the vote figures – how has this looked for previous seasons?

        • Fleur has been getting heavily pimped for over a month now and she has still only been 3rd favourite behind Ben at around 7/2. She is now odds on with most meaning she must have polled highest by a considerable margin on Saturday even though I assumed she would have done with big band week. Maybe she was 2nd that week.

        • Boki

          The fact she gets so much favor combined with the fact that Andrea proved not to be invincible is enough for current odds. Punters watch the show and react to what they see, sometimes is the reaction exaggerated (many had Fluer red and rushed to redesign the book I guess) but blaming the insiders is a nonsense imho.

    • EM

      Not to mention bookies odds are also driven by the amount of interest or lack of it from punters

      • We haven’t had a shock winner for as long as I can remember. By this point the clear favourite goes on to win it. There is inside information without a shadow of a doubt.
        The only legit movement in odds is before the live shows when there are no voting figures. Its probably a very good earner for insiders who do it carefully. The BBC is different they have a much tighter lid on their voting figures.

  • EM

    On the subject of odds is my memory playing tricks on me or does it feel like this year more than ever the prices available are matching the expectations of “in the know” punters here rather than a wider market?

    For example Lauren being fave to go this week despite no bottom two appearances can only be based on observing her treatment and the shows intentions.

    The only time this series I saw a profitable difference was the Stevi-Jay sing off

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