I find myself in agreement with the consensus among our commenters that producers’ preferred finalists are Fleur, Ben and Stereo Kicks, leaving Lauren and Andrea in their sights this week and next. The main questions are: how well do they suppress any Andrea bounce; how close is Lauren to the danger zone; and will we have a singoff just to make sure producers get what we think they want?
The moment in the competition when we switch to two songs per act, creates a slightly different dynamic for in-play betting. We’re used to contestants losing favour in the space of a week; that can now happen in one evening. Narratives can be set up by the first performance, to be triumphantly achieved or disastrously fail in the second.
Take Chris Maloney in the 2012 semi-final, allowed some dignity for ‘You Raise Me Up’ before a full-on attack for ‘Just Haven’t Met You Yet’. Andrea and Lauren, take note!
Andrea’s song choices seem most likely to create this story during the show. The former public favourite allowed to do his usual thing for ‘Hero’, be reminded this is what he’s good at, before finding himself swinging from ‘Chandelier’. This week, the publicity has stepped up the negativity a gear, The Sun reporting on his “strop” at being in the bottom two to reinforce the “diva” label that will quite possibly be wheeled out again this weekend.
Both of Lauren’s two song choices suggest to me that her slow puncture treatment will continue. ‘Don’t You Worry Child’ brings us back to Kye Sones’ Bonfire Night (incidentally, it was also the Miss Dynamix singoff number), whilst ‘Clarity’ is another song that that just isn’t well known enough to a mainstream audience.
An added complication is that Lauren has been suffering from flu this week. Producers may have to tread more carefully as a result, but they’ve already managed to quell a sympathy vote based on illness this series when Jay James first fell into the bottom two. It does make things a little more unpredictable pre-show, however.
Like last week, I expect Fleur and Stereo Kicks to be given every help, although it might be worth seeing if Mel tries to undercut any praise given to either act. Song choices look good for the boyband in particular, allowed to reprise their triumphant bootcamp performance of ‘Run’. ‘Just The Way You Are’ gave Matt Cardle his strongest relative phone vote in 2010 from the week 2 pimp slot.
Meanwhile, Ben Haenow’s choice of ‘Come Together’ was Matt’s weakest relative performance when he performed it from the coffin slot in week 7 and was almost trumped by Katie Waissel. I’m intrigued as to how mixed the messages will continue to be for Ben this week. To be fair, I think the song will suit his voice more than Matt’s, and it served Olly Murs well enough from the week 4 pimp slot in 2009, when he managed second to a bouncing Danyl.
‘Thinking Out Loud’ is encouraging as his other number tonight, but once again I’ll be watching to see how much Mel, and indeed Cheryl, continue to qualify their praise for him.
With other unknowns such as the treatment of Lauren’s illness and whether we will have a singoff this weekend, it’s another show when I’d rather wait for any in-running opportunities. They may be created by the aforementioned potential for a first-song bluff that’s a prelude to a change in treatment with the second number. But there’s no guarantee of it.
As always, please let us know what you’re watching out for, and keep us posted about your thoughts during tonight’s programme.