X Factor 2014: Family Favourites

We didn’t address Lauren in our regular midweek review post, largely because we had very little to add to a fantastic analysis of the family dynamics on display in last week’s show by Heisenberg in the comments. In case you missed it:

At this moment I sense a definite end to Lauren’s journey. In fact, her journey ended in big band week when we saw clear evidence of vote transfer tactics from TPTB by featuring Fleur as big sister in Lauren’s VT. We saw Fleur represented as a role model and guardian to Lauren – someone who cares and provides for her, offers advice, makes cups of tea and meets her family (house visitor and World Championship Street Dancer, Lewis).

The family theme has become more prominent with Lauren recently, especially this saturday with Lewis on stage and the full Platt clan looking on from the audience. Also, the word ‘tiny’ was used more than once with Lauren which not only suggests vulnerability and weakness but also distances her in viewers’ minds from the grand spectacle of a big arena final.

It was no coincidence that Fleur also had a strong family theme this week, but there was a definite contrast.

Lauren ‘tiny’ Platt was joined on stage by someone even smaller than herself, who arguably overshadowed her in both performance and interview. Grouping Lauren with her younger brother helps to remind us that she’s still a child, a small fish out of water – not voting for her is actually a feel-good decision because she will ultimately be returned to the warm and protective bosom of her family.

Fleur, on the other hand, is the mature and capable driving force of her family. The feeling we get is that they are inspired by her, respect her and look up to her – similar to her earlier portrayal as guardian to Lauren.

With Only The Young now out of the equation, it’s very likely that much of Lauren’s vote will transfer to Fleur after she leaves the competition. The big sister VT and this week’s joint family appearances are good indicators and I fully expect these transfer tactics to continue into next week. The question is, how strong is Fleur’s vote? The answer will determine if Lauren goes this week or in the semi-final – if she wasn’t well clear of Andrea, which I suspect to be the case, then Lauren may be sacrificed this week to ensure Fleur’s safe passage to the final.

If instead they choose to shoot down Andrea this week, they’ll need Fleur to out-poll Lauren in the semi-final which I suspect she hasn’t done so far this series.

Either way, with Lauren dispatched before the final and Fleur making it, her chances are significantly improved with a successful and significant vote transfer and the backing of Cheryl.

http://goo.gl/QokxVe

Our suspicion would be that Fleur is already out-polling Lauren, but as Heisenberg says, either way the argument stands.

One further thought about the inclusion of Lauren’s brother in her performance is that it served to legitimise the inspired use of Fleur’s family in hers. We’re used to heartwarming family VTs, and telegenic children running on at the end of successful auditions, but this is the first time we can remember someone’s family standing on stage with them in the live shows. It felt like a big plus for Fleur, and setting the precedent with Lauren cleverly made sure it didn’t stand out as special treatment.

When will we go to the public vote only?

In the comments to the last post, Donald raises an interesting question: when will we go to the public vote only this year? It seems to be generally assumed that we’ll have a singoff this week, but there are precedents for doing away with the singoff at this point in the series – five acts in week 8. That happened in series 2, 4, 5 and 6 of the X Factor.

We can’t help wondering if this year the show’s best interests might be served by going back to this method, if two widely (though by no means universally) shared guesses in the comments are true:

  • that producers’ preferred final consists of Ben, Fleur and Stereo Kicks; and
  • that Lauren isn’t polling particularly well.

Let’s run with those assumptions for the sake of argument. It would maintain more suspense going into the final to have none of those three be tainted by a singoff survival between now and then. You would then have two of the three acts in the final never having hit the singoff at all, and Stereo Kicks having put their early singoffs behind them.

Several commenters have speculated that a singoff save this weekend might help bounce Stereo Kicks into the final – but having done such an impressive rebuilding job on the Kicks over the last three weeks, producers would surely rather not puncture their sense of momentum if at all possible. Getting them to the final without another singoff appearance would build a narrative that they have successfully turned a corner after an understandably rocky beginning as the eight of them took time to gel.

If producers are also thinking along these lines, then holding a singoff this weekend would mean they’d want to try to navigate both Lauren and Andrea into the bottom two positions – a bigger challenge than getting one of them plum last. Having a singoff between those two acts would also give them a bounce to suppress in the semi-final; and while admittedly that’s looked an easier job this season than in previous years, still the data set is limited and it’s a complication they might prefer to do without.

Dropping the singoff at this stage means they could go all out on Lauren this week (again, if she’s not polling well, which we reiterate is complete guesswork – for all any of us know, she might have topped every poll since week 1), while not worrying too much about suppressing Andrea’s bounce. Then in week 9, they can work with the grain of Andrea’s comedown from the bounce to manouevre him to the bottom of the vote.

The listing on the ITV website for Sunday’s show doesn’t explicitly promise a singoff, saying only

Dermot O’Leary hosts as the singing competition’s next elimination is announced. The tension will become almost unbearable for the remaining acts as they learn their fate. Who will be going home tonight? There will also be performances from top guest stars.

It’s also worth noting that the decision on whether to hold a singoff may depend on how many guest stars they can conjure up, as some commenters suspect that the need to fill airtime was the explanation for the otherwise puzzlingly-pointless unprecedented final-four singoff between Luke Friend and Rough Copy last year.

Is this something you’d consider if you were producers? Or do you suspect one of the two assumptions is wrong, and Lauren is either polling well or wanted in the final? Do keep the conversation going below.

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165 comments to X Factor 2014: Family Favourites

  • Martin

    We have three guests this week – Queen, Ella and puzzingly, Union J. Those three, plus an obligatory “final” performance from the eliminee would fill the same amount of time as a sing off – either that or they cram in three guests and a sing off.

  • Alen

    Eventhough I think producers will do everything they can (for example letting him sing Hero zzzzz) Andrea will bounce this week so the question is who would they want to be in the singoff with Lauren? I’m sure they’d try not to have Ben and Fleur in it but SK too.

    Therefore I asume there won’t be a singoff just not to harm any of the chosen finalists.

    So I predict they will sacrifice Lauren to push Fleur even more and finish Andrea off next week. But who knows, maybe Andrea is polling very bad and the difference between him and the 4th place last week was so big they don’t have to worry bout him.

    • Natasha

      Andrea may bounce but i dont think he will bounce enough to be top 3 in the voting and avoid the sing off. I do feel for andrea, by the look on his face after the last few weeks performances he knows they are after him and i really do feel for him as he has been a persnal favourite of mine since his first audition. Bless

  • Jessica Hamby

    I can’t see why they would choose Lauren over Ben. To me Lauren is a no brainer. Who’s going to be the more lucrative act after the show? Surely Lauren. Fleur has won the “woman of a certain age” vote from Ben and is very much the senior partner to Lauren – dancing, performing, family presence etc. I don’t think Lauren can threaten Fleur when tptb have control of song choice, vt and stage presentation.

    Compared to Lauren, what does Ben have to offer the current pop market? I just can see where he’d fit in.

    If I were to call it I’d say Andrea out this week, Ben out next week. I think last week showed far more support to Lauren than Ben and I think Ben’s song really did not delight his demo at all. If anything it alienated them. This was no “First Time Ever I Saw Your Face”. I know comments focussed on the song choice rather than the performance but the damage was done.

    • Jessica Hamby

      Correction: can’t see why they would not choose Lauren over Ben.

    • Marjorie

      Ben coming off the show with a genuine rock band or single would give the show a “fresh new vibe,” though, which it badly needs. He could reboot X Factor in the same way that Chris Daughtry revitalized American Idol, another show in the Simon stable.

      • Jessica Hamby

        Would anyone buy it though? I’m not sure rock is taken seriously in the UK. It’s either 6Music (which is so minority they had to have a campaign to stop it being closed down) or thought of as the naff preserve of messy-haired men in denim.

        I think it will be a hard sell once the novelty value has gone.

  • Dean F

    I agree they could do without a singoff, however I would also be careful to say Stereo Kicks can definitely outpoll Lauren in week 8. If SK are already above Lauren then they could do it with more SK pimping and a deramp for Lauren. If however, Lauren is currently above SK even by just the odd percentage point or two, it would be quite dangerous if they decide not to have a sing off. However they have decided not to do or to do a sing off in the past at the very last moment, so it is at this point when they can decide whether they need to save SK or not.

    Unlike some on here, I do not believe SK are polling much better than Lauren. I would be very surprised if they are more than 2-3% above Lauren at this stage if at all.

  • General Hogbuffer

    I would be surprised to see the exact procedure announced before they opened the phone lines…
    Just thinking aloud, having 3 guest acts on looks a bit like there will be no sing-off to fill the empty time between two ad breaks. And if they follow the recent cliffhanger teasing that would probably mean two of the acts (i.e. Andrea and Lauren most likely) will have to wait until the very end to find out who goes, so even if Andrea has a vote bounce, they could still make it look like he was in the bottom2 without actually having to say so.
    On that reflection, there will probably only be a sing off if one of the favourites looks like they may end up last in the votes. Which, by extension, means that we can be fairly sure that there will be no deadlock this week.

    • Jessica Hamby

      No sing-off points to Andrea going imo.

      Doing it like this they can avoid any hint of controversy because in a sing-off it’s hard to see any of the others outperforming him.

      • General Hogbuffer

        Hmmm – I find it hard to accept that he will have absolutely no bounce whatsoever. And nobody would have to outperform him, they can use any old claptrap reasoning to get rid. ‘Two weeks in the bottom in a row – the audience don’t connect to you blahblahblah’
        I think the script says Andrea and Lauren out next, in any order. So unless SK poll bottom, there wouldn’t really be any need for a sing off. (assuming Fleur and Ben are unlikely to end up last).

        • Jessica Hamby

          I don’t believe there will be a bounce. They can do what they like to him now. He’s done.

          Also, riddle me this?

          Why would they prefer Ben to Lauren in the final? Unless Fleur is threatened by Lauren (something which I doubt) I don’t see why they they wouldn’t want her in the final.

  • Ben Cook

    I just don’t think they’re as interested in signing Lauren as they used to be. She doesn’t do anything Ella Henderson isn’t already doing much better.

    • Jessica Hamby

      But she isn’t for now, she’s for next year or even the year after that.

      What has Ben got to offer? Can you see him breaking into the charts? I can’t. There are plenty of old blues and rock singers about doing the same sort of thing as Ben and they already have followings but they don’t sell in the volumes that Syco and Sony are looking for from x factor.

      They want 1D, Leona, Ella and that sort of thing.

      • Caro

        If she isn’t for now, as you say Jessica, then perhaps it isn’t worth getting her to pole position at this stage? She can still have a recording deal etc, and be nurtured as part of the Syco stable (mixing my metaphors…).
        They’ll give record deals to who they like, but it’s the winner who they want to get the Christmas number one, so they have to think of now, not a year’s time.

        • Jessica Hamby

          Fair point but I’m not saying she’s for the win. That’s for Fleur / SK. I like her for third. Mind you after all this support I’m giving her she’ll probably go this weekend.

  • Ben Cook

    They’ve squeezed three musical guests in the show before and still had a sing-off, so I don’t think much can be read into that. Sometimes they cut out the opening group number, sometimes they just waste less time elsewhere in the show. The result announcement takes less time when there are less of them.

    As they haven’t done a week 8 sing off since series 6 I’d be amazed if they did one this year. I see the point about it being better to avoid their favourite 3 hitting bottom 2, but it’s too risky with Andrea due a bounce. What happens next week is any guess, but since they did it last year seemingly for no reason, they’ll probably do it again this year.

    It’ll be fascinating to see Andrea’s treatment this week. After James Arthur’s shock bottom 2 appearance, his vote went up massively and stayed up. Same could still happen with Andrea. They could minimise this by almost pretending that last week didn’t happen. A VT with them banging on about him being in the bottom 2 last week because the public think he’s safe would just motivate more people to vote for him.

  • Ben Cook

    Well I just disagree with you on her potential. I don’t think she’s got the right look, an interesting enough voice and she’s got the stage presence of a piece of toast. I haven’t seen much in the way of a pimping for her in recent weeks which suggests TPTB aren’t that interested either. She’s a threat to the chosen one Fleur too. Better to have just one female in the final.

  • Ben Cook

    I see your point about Ben, but he might be polling really well and they might be thinking about chucking out a cheap covers album for Mothers Day which would do well. He’s probably not going to be the next Olly Murs but Lauren isn’t going to be the next Leona either.

    • Jessica Hamby

      It’s possible but I don’t like mights.

      I know the consensus here is that Ben must be polling well and Lauren not, but I can’t help thinking the last few weeks have been as much about deramping Ben as Andrea.

      Lauren had the ridiculous cake trays, the dancing and the boring tag but surely last week has done away with most of that.

      Ben has had, in my opinion, disappointment after disappointment. Man in the Mirror, I Will Always Love You and that Big Band number all promised so much more than they delivered. None of them were bad but in each case we were led to expect a “moment” and in each case it was all just a bit meh.

      In order to keep a bit of drama for the non-betting viewer surely Lauren seems like more of a competitor than Ben at the moment.

      I’m not saying Lauren will be ahead of Ben but I just can’t get the same certainty that you guys have.

      Mind you, given that we pretty much know Andrea is going this week it’s not something I’m going to get to stressed about. The negation of the bounce means, imo, whoever survives b2 this week will go next week.

      One other thought: in order to ensure an SK win they will have to deramp Fleur at some point. Doing so will also make it look like a competition (although for me she’s still a shoo-in for top 2). Might be something to watch out for this weekend.

  • Dean F

    How sure are we they are gunning for Lauren? There are signs yes, but another piece from Brian Friedman in his Mirror column about Lauren. In fact since before week 4 every week there has been a piece on Lauren, and hardly a mention of Ben, Fleur or Andrea. He must really like her for some reason.

    In his column he has stated that they were just testing the water with Lauren last weekend, and now they see she can do it, they are giving her another huge production this weekend…. promising words IMHO.

    Is it possible after the week 4 debacle they went off Lauren, but after her promising week 7 performance they are now back in with her and would want her as a finalist.

    For what its worth Brian predicted an Andrea, Ben and Lauren or Fleur final

    • Jessica Hamby

      I don’t think they went off her. I think that they were testing her, audience reaction to her and audience reaction to their strategies (why was she the first with those stupid cake trays?).

      Also they need to have a dramatic show. They know the results they want probably before the whole process starts, certainly early on, but they don’t want us to know. That’s the real skill in what they do.

      The audience must not be able to perceive the manipulation and the audience must also enjoy the show. Lauren’s little journey from the heights of Happy to the lows of boring/can’t dance mid season to redemption and finalist in the end is a great little story and, while people are thinking about that, it distracts them from the whys and wherefores of other things like song choice, staging, dancing, women in champagne glasses etc.

      As far as Brian’s prediction is concerned, maybe he’s a free agent but I doubt it. More likely his prediction is just another part of the drama. Not saying Stereo Kicks makes their “journey” all the more dramatic. I mean, who could have predicted that?

    • General Hogbuffer

      Brian Friedmann is a rather integral part of the whole machinery – his routines are a massive part of the general manipulation, so I would be fairly surprised if he was let loose to voice his opinions as he pleases. His column is as much a mouthpiece for the official party line as any interview with Louis…
      If he writes about Lauren then there is a reason for it, either positive or negative.

  • Ben Cook

    Why have you ruled out Andrea doing a James Arthur and getting a massive bounce?

    • Dean F

      I cant see it personally, has there been the uproar about Andrea being in a sing off that James had? Not really, Andrea has a fanbase, but that’s it now, not picking up any floating votes. If he does bounce it will not be the way James did, his bounce effectively helped him win, with the help of the show of course.

    • Curtis

      The only way Andrea will do a James Arthur is if the show allow him to, either by actively helping him (surely not going to happen) or by error. I really doubt they’d make the mistake of pimping Andrea this week – I’m sure they’ve learned from James Arthur just how powerful a surprise B2 sympathy pimp bounce can be.

  • Donald

    I had a thinking that no sing off was due or possible as another stunt that might help SK if they go to get Andrea bottom. I was trying to figure out what stunts they have left and that became a possibility. That why I mentioned and they do have history of doing it if needed.

    It would add more suspense to the weekend also.

    No Daily Star leaks yet this year either.

    Waiting to watch show before any major decisions on betting but at 7/2 generally Andrea to go seems a bit of early value.

    A sing off could be a money making opportunity, wait and see what they do but will not surprise me at all if no sing off.

    Two songs each will give TPTB two goes to get a target.

    The market gone a bit crazy this week and allot of it is pure speculation just yet.

    • Jessica Hamby

      Surely Andrea is to go.

      It would be a mercy killing. He looks so unhappy every time it’s Simon’s turn to speak. He knows he’s in for a pasting. I hope they just let him go gracefully.

      Also there’s still money to be made for them from him. He could well have a market, particularly in Italy, just not a pop market.

      If he wants to be a pop star he needs to shave, lose 50lbs, learn to dance and embrace his camp. I can’t help thinking that’s a big ask. (Mind you, he certainly has the vocals for it given his Relight My Fire).

  • Keen Observer

    While there is little doubt Fleur is rightly the favourite – With her incredible treatment she now seems to be extremely popular and has a very likeable personality. However, it feels a touch naive to discount a few things against her. Barring week 1’s “All about that Bass” (The trigger?!) & “Bang Bang” she performs pretty poorly Youtube wise, this week with everything in her favour she is only above OTY. Without figures to back me up, I have never seen her set the iTunes charts alight, and this week was no exception.

    To be frank her voice is nowhere near as strong as others this series and pales even further compared to successful former contestants. It feels very unlikely they’ll be able to get much out of her post show, and after the feel good winner of Sam Bailey, it’s not imperative to get another over the line so soon. It’s just a thought, but when TPTB are looking at these things week to week, it probably wouldn’t take too much effort to push Ben over the line instead, as an example.

    Another quick point relating to the above, acoss the series Lauren is the clear standout across Youtube and itunes, and although I agree they have little interest in pushing her for victory, it may be foolish to get rid of the most “popular” performer this early.

    • EM

      I’ll refer you to global YouTube sensation Susan Boyle who had millions of views all over the world and came…. second!

    • Jessica Hamby

      Isn’t it more about the voters and there impressions on the night?

      Otherwise OTY would be walking it and SK, with no YouTube presence to speak of, would have gone before Steph Nala.

      • Jessica Hamby

        *their* imporessions

      • Keen Observer

        Haha, fair point! In counter, they wouldn’t have wanted to their most marketable asset, in that case Susan Boyle, not in the final. I’m not saying Lauren is their most marketable asset, but I think it’s OK to say she’s the act the public enjoy listening to the most (People rewatching performances & buying her performed songs).

        I think you’re obviously right and it is about the voter’s impressions on the night, but in terms of post show I would have thought youtube views and iTunes performances are pretty important. SK are actually doing v well on youtube now, the last four weeks going back have been 2nd (Lauren 1st), 2nd (Fleur), 1st, 1st. If I’m not mistaken!

        • Jessica Hamby

          I’ve been favouring Lauren above Ben for the final for a few weeks now but I’m in a minority. I think she’s a much bigger asset to tptb than he is.

          • Blake

            I think tptb may prefer her there to Ben. But I think you’re forgetting that they much more need an exciting final than to have the most marketable act in the final. Lauren clearly has more post-show potential than Ben. But Ben will absolutely put on a better show, he draws in a very large segment of the audience, and has likely been polling well all series. And this is why I think he’ll be more likely to make it over Lauren.

    • General Hogbuffer

      I completely agree about Fleur’s voice and its limitations, but as soon as she is off the show she will be made into a ‘recording artist’. Like those other vocal powerhouses One Direction and Cheryl FERNANDEZ-VERSINI (had to do the voice, sorry…). Not having the strongest voice in the competition is the least issue for her. Leona Lewis had a good voice and the personality of lukewarm soya milk…

    • Marjorie

      Lauren is in no way the top in YouTube views. Almost every week, the top in YT views (and Twitter follows) is SK.

      • Dean F

        Decided to crunch some numbers between the 2

        Lauren has had in total 4,860,193 views – Happy by far her highest with 1,517,788

        Stereo Kicks in total have 4,716,610 views – Week 3 their highest with 1,209,587

        Lauren is leading overall mainly thanks to her week 1 – 3 performances though (showing she has/had a strong fanbase to start). Stereo Kicks have actually had more views than Lauren between week 3 and week 6.

        What interested me is that week to date so far Lauren has more views for her week 7 performance than SK. This despite being on first compared to SK’s pimp slot. I must say the week 7 for Lauren has gave her some momentum as it showed she can do something different. Not saying she will win, or even avoid elimination this weekend, but could be a game changer for her (on top of Brian Freedman’s column).

        That said Lauren’s week 7 still only had 275,000 views which is poultry compared to some early numbers for both acts, but I expect that to be nearer 400,000 by the weekend which is solid for YT views at this stage.

        Also worth adding YT views doesn’t mean that much in the grand context of where the votes are going.

        • Donald

          That fan base will have stayed and be still on board. That is one reason I think Lauren has been polling well. YT is slowly loosing out to Facebook for overall online video consumption. YT views easily manipulated with channel position and search position etc. James Arthur was a classic example of that. iTunes this year is no doubt for revenue as historically original versions of songs spiked when performed on X Factor. A paying customer is a real fan though and most valuable.

          Overall in all online outlets including social media and Google and Bing search Ben and Lauren have been doing well despite little pimping on the show recently.

    • I tune sales mean sod all in relation to votes. See overload generation if in any doubt, same goes for twitter. See same act mentioned for proof of that.

  • David Cook

    Having carefully read and digested all the comments I’ve come to a conclusion. Out of Andrea, Ben, Fleur, Lauren and Stereo Kicks I feel that one of these acts will be eliminated this weekend, and one of remaining four will win it. Probably.

  • Heisenberg

    Andrea on Loose Women discussing this week’s songs and name checking another contestant. Full interview here.

    For what it’s worth, Stevi also appeared on LW this time last week.

    Cheers Andrew.

    • Dean F

      I predict the 2nd one to be another relight my fire moment 😀

      Lauren getting name checked by Andrea doesn’t really mean much as TPTB have no influence on that

  • Scott

    I wonder if we’re heading for a Leona Lewis-style final. In that the choice is so blindingly obvious that the public will do the right thing.

    In that theory, given the choice of Fleur – who can perform and pull off a big performance for a big final, Stereo Kicks – who are distinctly average as it stands and Ben – who has a rocky edge that will jar with many viewers and struggles a bit outside his comfort zone – the viewer will be sent down one obvious route.

    Going by this theory they would prefer to have Andrea out before the final. Also going by this theory, Lauren may have been Plan A to be Plan B (if you follow), but after a few shaky performances they may have decided she’s too much of a risk for the final. For all his failings Nicholas was consistent (as long as you didn’t give him Beyoncé…)

    Not saying this will happen, just a theory.

    • Face

      while I get the gist of what you are trying to say… I am not sure this series is anyway comparable to series 3…

      while Fleur can do a dance routine, and has personality and is attractive… she is not technically a ‘singer’… which XF has always tried to convince the punters is what is important… especially when they get down to the final few acts…

      every other winner has been a ‘singer’ or had a singer in their number (blonde girl in Little Mix)… and that is often as well as being able to do the dancing, performing, song rearranging etc…

      James from SK is more of a singer… as is Ben (and Andrea and Lauren)… than Fleur… and in their own way Ben and SK both have stage presence and personality… just in a different way to Fleur…

      and I think the comment you made about Ben… having a rocky edgy that will jar with some viewers and struggles a bit outside his comfort zone… probably applies as much to the other remaining acts in this series (Fleur, SK, Lauren, Andrea) as it does to most XF acts in general…

      boybands, power ballad male diva singers, sexy pop/RnB performers, squeaky clean teen girl singers will all turn off as many viewers as they turn on… can you see SK doing full on disco… or Andrea doing hip hop… or Fleur doing full on Rock (i.e. not their comfort zone)… so isn’t that the same…

      to some people I know… Ben was considered great during Big Band week… better than SK, Andrea etc… but potentially the only reason some may consider him to have had an off week / been outside his comfort zone is because 2 of the judges gave that feedback…

      so I think the interesting thing is… that TPTB are making you think Ben (and Lauren and Andrea) is more limited than SK and Fleur… which helps point to who they want to do well…

      now whether the general public agree, and vote that way is another thing altogether…

      btw… imo… Nicholas was more of a one trick pony than any of this years top 5…

      • Scott

        Fair points all round there.

        To clarify, I wasn’t suggesting that Fleur is quality-wise comparable to Leona, I was just suggesting they may be trying to engineer a similar impression that she is the only choice in comparison to whoever is up against her in the final.

        I don’t think we’re too far away from each other here. What I meant to put across was that producers are clearly directing us towards Fleur and Stereo Kicks, not that I think they are better than the other acts in the show. Having a talented but Marmite character who they can deramp just enough to allow one of their favoured acts to win strikes me as the best policy – in the way that the British public were never going to vote for Ray Quinn over Leona Lewis (again, while pointing out that the gulf in quality is nowhere near that large).

        • Stu

          Leona only actually received 60% of the vote in the final against Ray’s 40%. This shows that even if you put one of the best vocalists this country has seen in a long time against a cheeky fairly good-looking male contestant, the result is never going to be as certain as it may seem. I don’t even think Leona topped the vote in most of the weeks which in hindsight is shocking. Anyway, to relate this to this year’s competition, having Fleur in the final with either Stereo Kicks or Ben could be terrible for her – probably moreso if it was Ben since at least the lead singer of SK isn’t the most handsome contestant ever (trying to be polite). If your theory is right, a Fleur vs Stereo Kicks vs Lauren final is the way to go (Andrea’s voice would just overshadow everyone).

          • Boki

            It all depends on vote numbers up to this point, but if the theory Fleur vs SK vs Lauren final is true we should see support for Andrea’s bounce in order to steal Ben’s vote this week and try to land him in b2?

    • Dean F

      On the face of it defo looks that way Face regarding lauren/Fleur. Seems Lauren was either one of the prior options with Fleur to be plan A, up until about week 5, or was always plan B in case Fleur never flyed with the public.

      Just went over lauren’s performances again and everything about her staging up until week 5 was brilliant, comments were all good (at times lukewarm admittedly) even more so in the first 3 weeks. She was defo in the main plans to win the show, but around week 5/6 they decided to ramp it up with Fleur and give subtle deramps to Lauren. That said I do believe her week 7 performance has put her back in the game a bit, but it only really depends on how Fleur is really doing too. Its good we can be at this stage wondering whats going on with some questions. I found last year quite boring for this reason, where as this year we still have a lot of questions at this stage, even though the answer may yet be the most obcious (Lauren to go this week, Andrea next week), SK 3rd, Ben 2nd, Fleur winner

  • Woofie

    It depends upon the build up if they want to set up the feel of an open final, which may get better ratings if people thought there was a contest rather than crowning the favourite. I don’t know, I think SK could put on a show with a lot of production, they have shown they can “move” with Everybody…. James Graham is not average if it was built all round his vocals… if they got to the final and without dropping in the B2 zone might even create a buzz that their demographic could swing it, especially if they were still in it on the Sunday… If it was Ben being more rocky would go down ok in the arena and on TV… Might not be that bad…. with some good guests could even be enjoyable….. I think it would be more emphasis on entertaining than great vocals…. On the other hand Andrea and/or Lauren in the final would be about the vocals… could TBTP create a real feeling of an open contest yet still push their chosen one? Anyway all could change this weekend….

  • EM

    If there’s a sing-off this week it will certainly reveal lots about the state of the voting. They must suspect at least one of the favoured 3 is in danger of coming bottom and I’d suspect that one would be SKs.

    No sing off means they’re confident that the big three have the fanbase and appeal to stay safe and they can manipulate either of the disposable two out.

    If someone runs a book on sing off or not my money is on sing off!

    • Sky bet have opened a bottom 2 market.

      • Dean F

        On that point… midweek odds

        Winner

        Fleur to the East Evs (SJ, Hills)
        Ben Hey Now 4/1 (Lads, Coral)
        Andrea Frostini 5/1 (various)
        Little P-er-Kicks 11/1 (SJ)
        Lauren Platter 12/1 (various)

        Next Elimin

        LP 5/4 (Hills)
        SK 5/2 (various)
        Andrea 4/1 (various)
        Ben 7/1 (various)
        Fleur 28/1 (bwin)

        Bottom 2

        LP 8/13 (various)
        SK 8/11 (various)
        Andrea 5/4 (Skybet)
        Ben 5/2 (coral, bwin)
        Fleur 4/1 (coral, bwin)

  • Woofie

    It is going to be interesting. For SK this weekend I think it is going to about James Graham vocals and that could be the difference giving them some creditability as contenders. With Run he can goes into his high range, which they used/needed? for “You are not alone”, I think the last couple of weeks it hasn’t been used/needed as much, or used Reece. Is it a coincidence James microphone went off in Big Band week at the moment he was to deliver a long high note? With Run could both lads could be used in this way and really stand out vocally? All to show how far they come and improved…. I’m sure they use this sort of thing for song choices etc. No expert so I could be competely off track, just an observation.

    If they have long term plans for this group can they really go B2? Of course, they might have no choice if they are wanted for the final. Ironic that Union J are on, as the “battle of the boybands” not only missing out on the final spot but I believe affected their post show success… A final placing is a good launch pad for a boyband…

  • Jessica Hamby

    Advert for x factor during IAC was a montage consisting almost entirely of Fleur, Lauren and SK. A bit of Ben. Two shots of Andrea. One with Simon saying that he couldn’t be going home. One with him looking awkward and making a heart shape with his hands as the final shot.
    He just looked out of place.

    They’re going to do him on Saturday. No doubt.

  • Woofie

    I am convinced that with Run, TBTP can create a credible “wow” moment for SK, this week.

    • Marjorie

      Absolutely, it’s their “master plan,” since it was the first song they ever sang together!

      • Alen

        Remember though when One Direction sang “Torn” in Judges House and it was their moment and then they sang it again the week they actually got booted out so it doesn’t have to work out.

        • Marjorie

          Union J got a big bounce on “Call Me Maybe,” though, which reprised their jh song… that was the week Ella/James Arthur were the b2. It’s all up for grabs this week, I think. I suspect Simon wants a Fleur/Ben/SK top three, but can tptb make it happen?

  • Phil

    I don’t think I see what others are seeing in Lauren at all. I really can’t see her in the final. I think someone here described her as being like your next door neighbour’s moderately talented daughter, which sums her up pretty much. Nothing commercial or distinctive, and I can’t see her being signed after the show.

    For all the doubts about Ben, I think he’s leading the votes so far. I do think however that eventually he will be eclipsed by Fleur. He’s got a good voice, and he’s pretty damned good looking. It’ll be close, but I agree on the point of the viewers doing “the right thing” when it comes to voting in the final and Fleur will clinch it.

    • Marjorie

      I think if they compare Lauren and Ella this weekend when they both actually perform, it will show audiences how bland Lauren really is in comparison. It could be to SK’s power to showcase a (very dull) Union J single and Lauren’s detriment (with a powerful Ella performance) this weekend.

    • fused

      I’ve never liked Lauren that much, I just find her very overrated insipid and boring, just like I thought Lucie Jones and Sophie Habibis were. But in fairness to Lauren, she’s lasted longer than they did, and she seems quite popular, and I have actually heard people in real life say they like her, when I always kind of thought Lucie/Sophie’s support was more of an internet vocal minority thing. As I said I don’t see the fuss with Lauren either, and I don’t think she’ll win, but I think she has a lot of fans.

  • Caro

    Talk about planting seeds in people’s minds…. the XFactor website and FB page have a poll where you can vote for why you think Andrea was in the sing off.

    “Why do you think Andrea Faustini was in the bottom two last weekend?

    -The funny faces he pulls puts me off

    -He’s so good people don’t think they need to vote

    -I want him to perform not just sing

    -He needs to perform a more uptempo number”

    • Woofie

      Interesting poll doesn’t say how many voted but 58% say he is too good people people don’t need to vote….

      • Blake

        If that is a general reflection of how people feel, could there be some sort of bounce this weekend? I think it’ll be harder to stop than any other possible bounce this series.

        • Alen

          wow, so now everyone that saw that poll will look out for his weird faces and noticing he only sings ballads (hero!). the manipulation is clear, i feel sorry for him.

          • I think this poll was done more likely to see how high his bounce could potentially be. Hence the option because he’s so good people didn’t think they needed to vote.

  • Blake

    Woops, sorry Caro. Didn’t see that post!

  • Dean F

    OK so I have it decided for this weekend what they will do to Andrea

    1st song on Jukebox he will knock Hero right out of the ball park, but judges will criticise his lack of versatility, his funny faces etc,

    2nd song he performs an uptempo number in a hilarious costume where he is dressed up as a cheesecake, with backing dancers that are dressed as all sorts of delicious treats with sprinkles on them. Simon Cowell feints of laughter and Andrea eats a donut at the end for good measure.

  • Jessica Hamby

    I think the donut deramp was ony half of it. There was something else going on too. I just wish we could identify exactly what it was. It was very powerful. Just the sight of Andrea has become somehow unpleasant and offputting. That devil costume is involved somewhere but it seems to long ago to spot it precisely.

    • Chris

      Not sure if you’re in the majority there, my Mum’s fave contestant is Andrea and I’ve actually heard her saying: “He’s always eating .. like that Brad Pitt in Ocean’s 11”. Needless to say, we all fell about laughing at the comparison to Brad, but deep down there is a core function of motherhood that likes to see young males have a healthy appetite.

      • Jessica Hamby

        I’m not sure what you mean. I’m don’t know which majority / minority you’re referring to.

        The Donut Deramp was a vague idea I postulated about the link between Simon’s donut comments and the VTs which included contestants eating – particularly from the very conspicuous 3 tier cake trays. Daniel and Andrew expanded on it and have described it in other threads.

        I like Andrea but I think he’s been hit by a subtle but huge deramp and I think a lot of people who formerly liked him are now not so keen at all. Some seem to actively dislike him.

        I think the donuts / greed thing is part of it but I think there’s more to it than that.

        Of course there are some people who still like him. I do myself although his performances suffer when he’s given unhelpful musical arrangements (which imo certainly happened for I Have Nothing – no intro for example, a small thing but a big loss in terms of the drama of the song). It would be unlikely to impossible for any deramp to put off everybody. All it has to do is put off enough people. Your mum’s reaction is also why I think this was an attack on more than one level. If you don’t get them with the first barrel you try to hit them with the second!

        Obviously enough people have turned off him to put him b2. That would have been unthinkable a few weeks ago.

        • Chris

          I suspect that only a tiny minority of viewers would consider that “just the sight of Andrea” to be negative.

          Simon’s original 5 doughnuts/6 doughnuts comment was a masterful detraction from what was a good performance.

          The on-going food themed VTs might be de-ramping for some demographics but I suspect it doesn’t hurt Andrea too much in the middle-aged-women-with-children demographic who will likely have emphathised with Andrea’s Mum fussing about him losing weight in the week he went to his parents.

          About a hitherto unknown sub-plot deramp that no-one has spotted – not sure about that and why would you even need it, the early front-runners almost always fall away during the season and get replaced by the people on a journey who have a break-out moment a bit after half way through the live shows.

          • Jessica Hamby

            Personally I dthink Andrea’s had a lot of help to fall away and some of the others have had a lot of help to succeed but I get that people’s views differ.

            As long as you’re making more than you lose I don’t suppose it matters much how you get there.

          • george

            simon’s 5/6 doughnut comment was like some weird nlp/derren brown style pattern interrupt designed to confuse the fck out of people.

          • Jessica Hamby

            Doesn’t matter whether the “Donut Deramp” interpretation is bull or not. It’s still been useful in terms of preparing us for his b2 / near exit when other people weren’t expecting it at all. I’ll be interested to see if there’s a blip in Lauren’t figures during cake week but obviously there’s a lot more to it than just posing next to a cake.

  • Boki

    We don’t know if and how hard are they going to suppress his bounce this week, but at the odds 4/1 on Andrea to go (with cover on Lauren) looks reasonable to me.

  • fused

    I suppose if any act this year is capable of getting a big sympathy bounce it would be Andrea, though I think the sympathy bounce effect hasn’t really happened this year the way it usually does. It makes me wonder whether Andrea really was running away with the vote early on as most of us have expected. It’s possible, Janet Devlin and Mary Byrne both landed in the bottom 2 at about this time and both started out getting high votes in the first half of the series.

    But whether or not he was at the top of the vote to begin with, they’ve managed to significantly erode his popularity. I mean, there wasn’t even much of an outcry about him being in the bottom 2.

  • Stu

    Sorry if it’s been mentioned but if the producers decide it’s a public vote only this weekend, that backs them into a corner the following weekend since it’ll look like a fix having no sing-off in week 8 but then one again in week 9. So if there really is no sing-off this week, the producers must be sure they can engineer their targets into the bottom of the vote.

    Alternatively, they could have a sing-off this week and public vote only thereafter. A Lauren vs Stereo Kicks bottom two with Lauren going (with producers assuming Andrea will bounce), then the following week, assuming Fleur and Ben are polling in the top 2, the producers do their best to make Stereo Kicks bounce as much as they can – therefore leaving Andrea at the bottom of the vote. “The act with the fewest votes and immediately leaving the competition tonight is Andrea”. No cry of a fix. No judges manipulation accusations. Andrea’s out. But this would only happen if Andrea’s vote really isn’t that great.

  • Joe

    As has been very well outlined I too was of the view that Lauren was a goner this week to transfer her votes to Fleur. However I can now see the need to rather urgently go after Andrea to ensure he doesn’t bounce. Cue page 46 of today’s Sun, the article says

    . ‘Andrea caused a panic when he suffered a massive melt down – barricading himself in a hotel room for 12 hours’

    They have already started to help depress a sympathy bounce!

  • Jon

    Some more positive comments for Fleur backers from Gemma Sheppard (X Factor Stylist) in The Times

    ‘Am I allowed to have favourites? OK, well I am obsessed with how cool Fleur is. I so love dressing her.” They have the same shoe size, so East gets the benefit of her personal “archive” of heels, and tonight East will wear a Stella McCartney tuxedo jumpsuit from Sheppard’s collection to a red-carpet event. “She is a future recording artist, no doubt. She has got it all going on. I think she is the closest Britain is going to get to a British Rihanna and I can go crazy once we get into the music world.”

  • tpfkar

    Been away for a couple of weeks. One trip to Essex where I saw an actual Lauren Platt poster on a Basildon bus stop. How’s that for glam?

    I read the mid-series totally wrong. I thought the Kicks were doomed but the producers have done a great recovery missions, and I was worried Andrea was uncatchable, clearly not the case. Given the little trend work I’ve done this series, Lauren (who’s gone backwards) must have had a huge early vote – she may well have topped the vote in the first couple of weeks. Where are the Daily Star when you need them?

    My win market is looking much better than it was before: green on Ben and Stereo Kicks, (and, erm, Lola and Steph) and red on Andrea. I thought his odds were too short at the start, but was panicking after week 5 that the producers had conceded he’d win, and was bracing for a big loss. So now, to hedge or not? Can Andrea win from here? I’d imagine it’s unlikely but I can’t rule the James Arthur route out. My first opportunity to get green on Andrea, but might be wasted money if they have him in their sights. Is anyone here still backing Andrea for the win?

  • David Cook

    The question is – is the deal with Premier Foods just a one year deal – or is the Doughnut deramp something we can expect repeated next year? Maybe they’ll change it a bit – five French Fancies good – but six would be excessive.

  • Natasha

    There is a post on DigitalSpy which states there was a tweet from Mark Sideaway stating that the 2nd song for each contestant will be chosen by a pop star. I hate to say it but Andrea will stitched right up if this is true. Transferred manipulation – quite clever actually

  • Dean F

    A bit OT, but…

    Does the women in the Platt clan not uncannily resemble James Arthur’s mum? Go to 1:40 in this video

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VEvjYhFKNwQ

    Then James Arthur’s audition

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tFoFtIqvkGE

    27 secs or 1:03 you see JA’s mum clearly

  • Feck it, I’ve done it. The producers had better see this one through…

  • Jon

    I hear a rumour that Lauren is ill and may have to pull out tomorrow. One to keep an eye on today….

    • Dean F

      If she does perform it could be a good story for her. If not she will be gone next week

      • Dean F

        That’s what I thought, but in truth I hope she performs. Said in the article she turned up for rehearsals and tried, but they sent her home to rest as she was clearly unwell, so hopefully she is better today, otherwise she has no chance to perform tomorrow night

    • Donald

      And a rumour that Andrea has been particularly difficult at rehearsals with what he wants this weekend. They were doing stuff he did not want and he seemingly threw teddy in the corner big time. He knows their games obviously.

      If it was one song Lauren might be okay but to get two together could be a push.

      • Jessica Hamby

        It’s a good time to spread a rumour even if it’s not true. Simon can then do what he did to JJ after he was eliminated and tell everyone how the rumours aren’t true and that he’ll definitely be getting a recording contract anyway.

        Stable door. Horse. Gone.

      • I wouldn’t rule that out. As I hinted last night, I have put my wallet firmly behind a nuking of Janet Devlin proportions.

  • Dean F

    Fleur and Stereo Kicks coming in on the winners market, Fleur odds on across the board now. Andrea and Lauren drifting

    Stereo Kicks drifting in the next elim market with Andrea coming in

  • Fleurs odds shortening is puzzling considering she’s only being pimped as she’s struggling in the voting

    • Jessica Hamby

      Heh.

      I refer the honourable gentlemen to the reply I gave earlier.

    • Donald

      Shortening because one of the top three Lauren is ill. Only joking Stoney, you deserve a decent win, you been there or there about past few years. It is still bit more open than bookies are saying though I reckon.

      • Jessica Hamby

        I’m still not sure whether you’re brave or foolhardy not covering it with SK. Three more shows is a lot of time for a late push for a boyband win.

        • or just lay off a little on Fleur ….

          For example … maybe you have £25 at 20/1 on Fleur – profit £500 risk £25

          You can now lay Fleur on Betfair at 1.9 to win £100
          … risk £90

          Fleur wins – you win £410
          Fleur loses – you win £75

          • Bit more at stake than that lol
            I 100% won’t be covering before the final. Ill reassess when the youguv figures come out. I would rather spend the money on backing her

      • Cardle was my last decent winner. Although I usually break even throughout the series. Last year I did a sizeable cover on sam 1st nick 2nd which would have been disastrous if they got Luke into 2nd!

    • Dean F

      Are they from today?

    • Jessica Hamby

      Gold lighting much?

      • george

        “gold lighting much” + what does a golden jukebox symbolise

        • Jessica Hamby

          Gold lighting tends to be associated with positivity and winning.

          Although there appears to be a consensus that Andrea is due for b2 this weekend (and probably elimination) there’s some disagreement about who will be down there with him. That Lauren is given such prominent gold lighting – not just the jukebox but also the sunburst effect arround it – could be seen as a sign of tptb favour.

          It depends on the final production of course, but also shot from the correct angle her head could easily obscure the jukebox and in that case the tv viewer would see her head and face surrounded by a corona of golden rays. It has been suggested, and I agree, that such an image reinforces positive feelings towards the artist in the viewer.

          It will be interesting to contrast her production with Ben’s.

        • Gavster

          You might find that it’s the default X-Factor Jukebox backdrop, rather than something being used for Lauren. She may have finished a run-through, and while being coached/directed, the stage has returned to default ready for next rehearsal.

          • Jessica Hamby

            True. We don’t really know what’s going on. There could be a technical run-through happening simultaneously with Lauren’s rehearsal and the stage image might have no relation at all to what she’s doing.

    • Heisenberg

      They’re from today – YahooCeleb are tweeting from rehearsals:

      https://twitter.com/YahooCelebUK

  • Heisenberg

    The Sun (free supplement magazine) cover for this weekend, Sunday, Nov 30th – I’m forgetful, which direction are those Lauren votes heading again?

    http://goo.gl/UqteVT

    • Jessica Hamby

      You’ve forgotten?

      Aaaaahhhhhhhh!

      😉

    • Gavster

      That photo doesn’t exactly scream out to middle-England does it? Could they make Fleur look any less likeable?

      • Jessica Hamby

        They’re styling them more like popstars and less like Saturday evening light entertainers. Lauren, if anything, looks less appealing than Fleur.

        Do you think this is part of a slight deramp to help SK over the line first? I think we’re going to see a top 3 of SK, Fleur, Lauren in that order, although I know Stoney will have me for saying it.

        • Gavster

          I have no idea, but the styling for Fleur looks a tad fierce and ‘here’s my tits.’

          • Jessica Hamby

            I realise I’m only a sample of one and I’m sure you gentlemen have your own take on it but in my experience “here’s my tits” tends to provoke positive rather than negative reactions.

            😉

        • Lmao let’s just wait till the live show before getting all presumptuous over a magazine shoot.
          A few years ago a guy that looked like sloth from the goonies won it by a landslide so I don’t buy this middle england jargon

    • Dean F

      The way it’s going they may aswell just let Lauren and Fleur do a duet in the final

  • Jukebox choices is this week’s theme. I doubt it’s Lauren’s performance backscreen.

  • Heisenberg

    “I absolutely adore Lauren, she’s like my little sister.”

  • EM

    Lovely pics Heisinberg.

    If the lighting is set as it will be for the performances then trouble for Lauren but positive Andrea.
    I suspect Andrea is lit for his mentor chat rather than his performance.

    I may live to deny saying this but I doubt that is Lauren’s performance backdrop as it doesn’t scream Don’t You Worry Child to me

  • Heisenberg

    You have to admire the fractured composition of this image from @TheXFactor:

    http://goo.gl/L7aEFq

  • Dean F

    When will we here their 2nd song choice?

  • None of fleurs songs this weekend will have a rap in it which is obviously due to her success last weekend with no rapping

  • Hi all, have posted a new thread for song choice discussions

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