X Factor 2015 Preview

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X Factor returns for its twelfth series this Saturday – you can expect the usual coverage here on Sofabet. Falling ratings over recent years have created a sense that this is a show in decline. What’s more, its current contract with broadcaster ITV is due to expire in 2016; and said broadcaster has created a scheduling headache this autumn with its rights to the Rugby World Cup.

The show’s response is an eyebrow-raising one – only seven live shows, rather than the usual ten; if we assume the usual three acts from each of four categories, this implies we can expect three double eliminations on the way to a three-act final. Boot camp, including the six-chair challenges, is strung out over five weekends. The rugby semi-finals, on October 24-25, lead into judges’ houses, which will this year be screened live; and the rugby final, on October 31, leads into the first live show.

Perhaps because of these unusual circumstances, the pre-rehearsal PR stories have been more numerous than ever. More than their fair share have featured Rita Ora, new to the judging panel this year after a stint on The Voice for the BBC. She’s been ubiquitous in recent months, appearing in the charts, other artists’ music videos, Samsung ads and the occasional American TV mini-series.

Radio 1 DJ Nick Grimshaw is also new to the judging panel, replacing veteran Louis Walsh. This appears to confirm an attempt to appeal to a younger demographic. Various other tweaks have also been announced, among them that viewers get to decide which judge mentors each category. Here are our thoughts in advance of the new series.

1. Look, new faces!

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It’s not just Grimshaw and Ora who will provide fresh blood for the show. Hosting stalwart Dermot O’Leary has been replaced by former Xtra Factor duo Caroline Flack and Olly Murs. This again feels like an appeal to a younger demographic. However, we at Sofabet are gutted to be losing Dermot, whom we dubbed the “silent assassin” for following a script which highlighted an act’s weaknesses or strengths as required.

We could fill a book with our favourite “knifed by Dermot” moments. For just one representative example of how he deftly aided the producers’ narrative with his choice of words and post-performance questions, you could remind yourself of points 1 and 21 of our analysis of Jack Walton’s elimination last year. O’Leary was such a professional in subtly guiding viewers’ perceptions that most will surely never have thought of him as anything other than the impartial host. Will Flack and Murs prove to be as smooth, reliable and useful to the betting community in signposting producers’ intentions?

Exactly the same can be said about the exit of Louis Walsh, and his replacement by “Grimmy”. Louis’s longevity on the show was down to his apparent absence of ego and uncomplaining willingness to do producers’ bidding, which meant it was always worth paying particular attention to his comments. Again, to give just one example among hundreds, waiting for the Irishman to announce which version of the finalists’ winner’s singles “sounds like a number one hit record” was typically a reliable pre-emptive crowning of the winner about ten minutes before Dermot officially announced it.

Both will be sorely missed – as indeed will voiceover legend Peter DICKSON, who is also no longer with the show. Quite how the dynamics of the new line-up will work will only become clear as the series progresses.

2. Same old tricks?

Cory Spedding represented the UK at Junior Eurovision in 2004, coming second with ‘The Best is Yet To Come’. Eleven years later, her experience at the X Factor auditions belied that song title; Cory explained on social media how she felt she’d been set up for a fall.

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According to her version of events (developed further in a blog post by Steve Brookstein which is also worth reading), much was made on the panel that she had been at school with Rita Ora. Spedding says she was confused by leading questions which suggested the pair had been close friends, before having her audition criticised, the implication being that she had tried to use her acquaintance with Ora to get ahead.

It will be interesting to see if the audition ends up being aired, with this backstory already online – is it wise for the show to draw the general public’s attention to the workings of the sausage factory? Stories like Cory’s leave an unpleasant taste: in contrast to the live shows, where the public vote at least gives the quarry a chance of escaping, in the audition stages producers are very much in control of the script.

At any rate, despite the promise of “more fun” in this year’s series, it seems that the occasional humiliation of a contestant is still going to be par for the course. We suspect the suggestion of “no more sob stories” – which we seem to get every year – should be taken with a similarly-sized pinch of salt.

3. Live judges’ houses

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We are intrigued by this. At first glance it helpfully removes the need to pore over Digital Spy in search of rumours about who’s made the lives (although there will always be those claiming to already be in the know). We’ll still need spoilers about who makes judges’ houses, of course, but assuming the six-chair challenge at bootcamp is filmed in front of a live audience again, those spoilers tend to be fairly reliable.

We’re more surprised that producers are willing to make such a leap with a step in the audition process which so heavily relies on the edit to shape viewers’ perceptions going into the lives. Indeed, we have always wondered about how much post-production goes into the judges’ houses edits. A couple of times, it’s felt to us as if some voices have later been given a boost in the sound studio – Chloe Jasmine and Miss Dynamix spring to mind. There’s less leeway in a live audition, though it’s worth bearing in mind that varying quality of song production plays a part in the live shows, and can do here too.

We’d love to think that a live judges’ houses might overturn the best laid plans if, say, a producers’ favourite has an absolute nightmare live audition which makes it look ridiculous to put them through. Though thinking back to Katie Waissel and Gamu in 2010, that may just see the CONTROVERSY card being played for the headlines. It’s certainly an interesting development.

4. Second Direction?

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News that X Factor’s best cash cow, One Direction, will be taking a “hiatus” from March leaves an obvious gap in the Syco portfolio for a boyband. Yet recent attempts to create the “next One Direction”, most notably Stereo Kicks last year, have failed miserably. Still, with Little Mix showing commercial endurance, we can probably expect another attempt to find Britain’s “next big group”. Whether that comes in the form of a boyband, an urban girlband along the lines of Miss Dynamix (without the pregnancy), or a mixed group remains to be seen.

We’ve now had two successes in a row for the traditionally-weak Overs category, and it will be interesting to see if the younger panel and presenting team see this category once again falling down the priority list. Meanwhile, after a few failed pimpings – in 2012 with Ella, and 2013 with Tamera – the girls’ category felt far more low-key last year, with producers uninterested in last-girl-standing Lauren Platt making the final after presumed alpha girl Lola Saunders had fluffed her opportunity.

It will be interesting to see if Ella’s chart hits will remind producers that the girls is the other category which has traditionally gone on to more significant post-show success.

5. Mentor mind games

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In the past, we have speculated about which judges will be favoured by the category they are chosen to mentor – in the equivalent preview piece last year we pointed out that the Overs shouldn’t have been priced as high as 7.0 pre-rehearsals given their steerage under selfish Simon’s return. That continued the trend of the most-heralded new or returning judge taking the crown: Tulisa in 2011, Nicole in 2012, Sharon in 2013.

Rita seemed the most likely fit into this pattern in 2015. However, earlier this week it was announced that viewers would decide which judge mentored which category, throwing these theories out the window. To be fair, there’s no reason for producers not to mix things up like this now that they don’t have to ensure that the joke act is entrusted to the safe hands of Louis.

It also leaves open opportunities to engineer a personality clash or two. We predict that the opening audition shows will feature the occasional instance of a judge saying “I hope I don’t get your category” to an act, setting us up for the public to vote to make that happen. Last year’s auditionee Raign, rumoured to return this year, and her nemesis Cheryl, are an obvious uncomfortable pairing. Simon would also play the part of the reluctant mentor with aplomb.

The start of a new X Factor series is always an exciting time for the Sofabet community. What will producers be trying to achieve? Will they succeed? And how can we make some money on it? Welcome back, and let us know your thoughts on it all below.

112 comments to X Factor 2015 Preview

  • Lia

    Happy to be back!!!

    • DavidPoland

      Hi everyone! My name is David and I am a lurker for this site for some time. Also interesting fact is that I am from mainland Poland. I’m very excited about a start of new season and can’t wait to see how fixing will look like with a bit changed rules. Also this year i will regularly analyse contestants’ vocals(with my time-slowing app TrakaxPC) and perhaps put my thoughts there(note:I don’t have much vocal knowledge)
      But now’I got a questin:have anyone got Melanie McCabe’s full 2011 audition? She’s IMO in the top 3 of the best vocaalists ever on UK’s X Factor(along with Leona’06 and Ella’12) and at the time her vocals were really interesting.

  • Good to be back. Vienna seems like a distant memory already.

    The big thing for us is two potential new betting opportunities in the live Judges Houses and viewer-chosen Mentors. The kick in the dick is the reduced live shows and fewer elimination and sing-off markets as a result.

    If you’re currently feeling action-starved post-Eurovision, a bet on Rita Ora to be winning mentor doesn’t seem like such a bad shout.

    • stoney

      Hmmm id think twice about that, she was first out on the voice

      • I’m not so sure. There’s previous with female mentors winning on their debut year; Dannii, Cheryl and Tulisa all doing so.

        • Jessica Hamby

          I’m expecting Rita’s new boobs to be employed as weapons of mass distraction throughout the series.

        • DavidPoland

          Basically new(or coming back) judges always win. Dannii’07 Cheryl’08 Tulisa’11 Nicole’12 Sharon’13 Simon’14. Show will be fixed for Nick or Rita to win

          • Jessica Hamby

            Interesting stat, but if the public are voting for categories then it might not go to plan. Having said that, the vote will no doubt be influenced as far as broadcasting rules allow.

          • DavidPoland

            Producers can make anybody win or lose. I guess if some Arab sheik were to have a talented child,he could sent his/her to X Factor and pay for his/her good treatment and resulting win.
            EDIT:It’s only a hypothetical situation – don’t take this seriously

          • Jessica Hamby

            I disagree with that. I think they would have preferred a different winner to the cruise ship woman and simply bowed to the inevitable when it became clear that Tamera and Rough Copy weren’t liked by the voters. Also I don’t think Ben Haenow was their first choice but he was the voters choice.

          • I don’t think he was the original Plan A, but I firmly believe after I Will Always Love You it was set up for him to win and Fleur to come second so she could have more of a “long-game” career. See Olly, 1D, Ella etc.

  • Piresistable

    Not sure about these changes. Nine weeks from the start of the series until the public gets to start voting seems a long time. Is there not a danger that everyone will be bored by then?

    I think there’s a good chance that Grimshaw will be irritating and it’s a shame that we’re losing the banter between Simon and Louis.

    • Fudd

      To be fair, nine weeks isn’t really anything out of the ordinary. Series 8 and 9 had nine weeks prior to the lives while Series 7 – the show’s peak – had eight. Though I guess it feels different because 7, 8 and 9 only had Saturday shows for the auditions stage whereas 10 and 11 have had Saturday and Sunday shows from the off.

      Daniel – we’re now on series 12, not 11.

  • Dan

    Interesting times ahead for X-Factor this year. With so many changes, I wonder how that will sit with the viewers, especially now it looks to be gearing up to appeal to a younger demographic.

    The scheduling is unfortunate, dragging out the auditions longer and truncating the lives. The boot camp/6 chairs are going to have to be something really special to keep people interested over five weeks, so look out for major shenanigans there.

    As for what the show is after this year, a replacement 1D will be needed and no doubt they’ll try and line some talent up for that. Whether or not they’ll win is a different matter but I guess that lessons would have been learned from Stereo Kicks. It has also been a long time since the girls have won, although for not the want of trying…

    Anyway, welcome back Sofabet team; looking forward to the articles and insight from everyone above and below the line.

  • Nissl

    The top priority for the season has got to be ratings. I’m looking for a big focus on fun, and for the producers to give the viewers as much “control” as possible. Already the wave of double eliminations in this year’s schedule suggests that achieving a precise result will be a lesser consideration. I would be much more willing this year to oppose any audition-stage alphas that I think the producers don’t have right.

    As for acts, I’m very curious to see whether they try another boy group. I think they’d like to avoid another late 20s white male winner. Beyond that, if I were the producers I would just be trying to pick the best ~2 acts per category that show up and then build the rest of the field out around them.

    As others have already said, I’m concerned they will lose people in October over the 3 weeks of 10 chair challenge.

    • My theory is TPTB are going to be doing everything to keep this season on the front of the red-tops. So my decisions when we get to the lives, and particularly the sing-off markets, will be made with that in mind.

  • EM

    Welcome back.

    The thing I’ve noticed in the pre-publicity is a real young and fun feel. The promo trailer was very un-X Factor of old featuring humour, laughing at itself.

    The moving on of Dermot, Louis and Peter Dickson all for younger models it seems also suggests a youthful scene.

    The promo shots showing Simon in loose white shirt and jeans also suggest youth.

    And no wonder. Strictly is winning but is the show that is older and stodgier. They’ll be trying to put it in a old fashioned box.

    They seem to be giving the audience more control but, as in the past, will that just be the illusion of control, the illusion of free choice?

    What does that mean for betting? I reckon they’ll be after a young and fun winner. Not Only The Young style but someone youthful who doesn’t take it all too seriously.

    If it wasn’t “audience choice” about who gets which category I’d say Nick would be the perfect choice for the overs and joke acts. He’ll be the nice guy and can easily embrace the Wagner, Jedward types.

    I’d also see Rita with the girls and the eventual winner. Or maybe the boys to give the tabloids some stories.

    Anyway looking forward to another series of Sofabet and hoping there’s none of the personal nastiness that spoiled things at times last series.

  • DavidPoland

    Your thoughts after first previews?
    My thoughts:
    Lauren Murray – reminds me a bit of Lola Saunders from last year,has quite a voice,but it sounds old-fashioned,and soulful voices had a hard time in last few series. I don’t think she is what Simon wants
    4th Power – great voices,also possibly a bit of sympathy-building because they flew across the globe to see Simon. The problem is that he has Little Mix. Anyway – I give them a big chance of passing to bootcamp
    Techno Susan – joke act are back,and she is REALLY bad. Pushing her through would be ridiculous. But notice Nick’s standing ovation – is he Louis 2.0?

  • DavidPoland

    Sorry for double post,but admins – PLEASE add edit option

  • Martin

    Hello all! I had a blast last year, my first year on Sofabet. I did a “practice run” in terms of imaginary money and whatnot – I’m going to have a dabble with small amounts this year and see how I get on – I’m a novice when it comes to betting so any advice is welcome. I have read a lot of the introductory basics articles here on Sofabet, and you lot are a massive help so I’ll be looking to you!

    I think last year I let personal opinion influence me quite a lot – that will be reigned in this year, and I found myself to be quite stubborn with changing my mind. Initially it appears to be quite a strange year, lots of new things to look at but I think the bones of the X Factor will be the same old tricks. I’d agree that ratings are key, I think we’ll see bigger productions in terms of staging, apparently Cheryl has overhauled some of the themes so we may have new song choices to contend with too but the longer build up to the live shows will give acts a bigger platform to build a fanbase going into the lives. The flip side is that it allows for more manipulation in the edit. Will be very interesting to see what we end up with.

    Interesting that Simon has already pinpointed two “amazing” girls this year, one of them being a 17 year old. One to watch out for, potentially our Plan A already earmarked. I’ll try and find a link to the article.

    My personal preference re: categories would be Rita with the girls, Cheryl with the groups, Grimmy with the boys but that would leave Simon with the overs again. When does the voting start/finish for that?

  • Donald

    Hi everybody, hope you all well and ready for a long drawn out jog to a sprint finish of just 7 live shows. That could ultimately get changed yet! It is the X Factor after all.

    First of all looking forward to a good season of harmony, some fun and few decent gambles as usual.

    Not saying too much as miles too early but I was thinking along same lines as EM. Lauren could have been there last year with early voting and even late voting patterns.

    So a “suitable” girl may be put in the game this time. The letters L.. J.. to be watched for early auditions. Be interesting to see if that pans out.

    Good luck to all, early value is handy but question this year is how early.

  • Jessica Hamby

    Who will take Ben’s place as the go to conversationalist for those about to be shot from the cannon?

    Will anyone get such a comprehensive pieing as Blonde Electra (Electric)?

    Is the viewing demo now so middle aged and pedestrian that Scowell is reforming The Carpenters?

    Can tptb find anything more damning than dressing a man in black and making him perform with the lights off?

    Answers to these and other questions coming soon.

  • DannyCraig

    It’s come around so quickly – last year’s show was my best from a betting perspective, and just hope that Grimmy plays the Louis role too a tee.

    Never a big fan of double eliminations; it makes it a bit easier for the producers to go after who they want.

    Either way, GL all & I can’t wait for this evening and the rest of the series ahead.

  • Jessica Hamby

    Thanks for the Steve Brookstein link too. It’s good to be reminded how ruthlessly the game is played. I do wonder how the conversations go in preproduction discussions. The bit about Cheryl stopping the audition in the instrumental section and asking if she forgot her words, for example. Was that explicitly discussed, was Cheryl told to watch out for any sign of forgetfulness (tptb knowing that a long break in the vocals was coming) or is Cheryl just a bit thick? Similarly with Dermott – was he just reading an autocue or was he fully briefed as to the intentions and reasons why he was saying what he was saying?

    Cock up or conspiracy is the eternal x fctor question. Still no clear answer though.

    Ok. Conspiracy.

    But how far does it run? Just how far will Rita Ora consent to be ridden like a pony?

    Ok, one suspects quite a long way.

    But explicit instructions to conspire in the misrepresention and career-ending besmirching of a starry-eyed wannabe? I still struggle to swallow that one whole. Scowell, Louis and La Osborne could easily be Illuminati lizards but Ora, Cole, Grimshaw, Scherzinger, Brown, even the tax dodging Barlow all seem too human for it.

    Someone please come along and help me get my mind right.

    • R

      Cheryl knows what she’s doing but probably a bit thick too.

      Barlow is definitely more lizard than human ;p

    • Alan

      They’re all in on it. Anyone in the music business knows that most of the hype is based on the loosest possible version of the truth at best and outrageous lies at worst. People knock years off their ages, people mine when they’re supposed to be singing live, people pretend to be straight when they’re gay, record companies pretend boybands are talented etc etc

      Im sure the likes of Barlow and Ora can turn a blind eye to the dark arts when they need to.

    • I’m not sure I agree with that Jessica. They all get bloody good money for this and I’ve no doubt in my mind they are all happy to play the game. They generally don’t get re-hired if they don’t.

    • Jessica Hamby

      Fair points y’all. Thanks. I needed that. The Music Business is not related to the quality or integrity of the music.

  • Shraine tumber

    I do know that mark sidaway is not producing this year as he is working on new Simon cowell project in America. I have spoke to mark and said that a really good producer from Thames has taken over. So I really think it will be different this year.

  • R

    Hi all,

    Great to be back!

    I haven’t not seen anything related to this series until now so am starting from a completely blank slate & playing catch up.

    It seems obvious the Ora, Grim, Murs & Flack are there to bring in the younger voters, so I’m guessing we won’t have an over winning this year.

    My usual method over the past few years has been boy-girl-boy, (Matt Cardle-Little mix-James Arthur-Sam Bailey-Ben H), so I’ll be backing a young female or a female group to win.

    Generally, I can see the public giving Grim or Cowell the Boys & Cheryl or Rita the Girls.

    If TPTB can manipulate the public to give the Overs to Cheryl, this would almost certainly leave Rita with the Girls.

    If Raign is returning, I can see the producers using her to ramp up the tension with Cheryl to entice the public to give Cheryl the Overs, leaving Rita the Girls.

    Good luck everyone, I hope no one gets too burned by the show.

  • Jessica Hamby

    Interesting how the judge roles have been so quickly established.

    Rita is the glamour. Nick is the new Louis. Cheryl is the big sister / elder stateswoman. Simon is the boss.

  • Alan

    Pretty sure i read early comments that Nick was really opinionated so not sure he’ll be playing the Louis role.

  • I’m out DJing tonight so it’s a TIVO job with a beer at about 1am. In previous seasons, I think it would be fair to say the act that closes the show is worth a watch, and at least a punt to make the lives if you can find such a market.

  • DavidPoland

    Jennifer is an alpha one this year? Everything about her were positive. Reminds of Sam Bailey’13 and Sami Brookes’11

  • Alan

    I was hoping to watch from the first episodes this series rather than just swerving the auditions and starting from the lives but it’s the same old garbage again and I just cant stomach it. Five minutes I lasted and I had to switch off.

    I’ll be relying on the comments of the posters on here to inform my early betting I think.

  • annie

    Oh. I predict a NIckMcDonald future for young Tom here.

    • Jessica Hamby

      Ah. You mean the scottish lad from 2 years ago. I don’t think Tom is as good. He looks like Peter Kaye and his voice sounded like a bleating sheep to me. With only 7 in the lives it woukd have to be a very poor year for him to make it (in my opinion).

  • Jessica Hamby

    I don’t remember Nick McDonald but if you mean he doesn’t realise he’s been marked for a messy, tearful, public execution I would be inclined to agree.

  • Jessica Hamby

    Simon’s K-Pop wet dream just became a reality.

  • DavidPoland

    IMO as the show goes on the alleged show’s “freshness” slowly disappears. Feel the same?

  • Uncalquera

    Olly’s friend singing was completely unnecessary and hurtful to watch. Yes, preparing for something amazing after the break, but completely unnecessary.

    • Jessica Hamby

      It’s the formula. Some laughs, some joy, a heartbreak and then the big redemption. And the truth is, he wasn’t very good. At least he won’t spend the rest of his life wondering if he could have. He’ll either get out and get some gigging experience or he’ll stick with the IT but be able to do it without thinking he should be a rock star millionaire.

  • stoney

    Don’t usually get sucked in by the young white girls but this girl is gonna be very hard to beat if tptb get behind her. Shes like a more friendly more likeable tamera foster

    • Jessica Hamby

      She was good. The nerves could be an issue though. Remember Lola from last year? Also the way the girl who came second (can’t remember her name – I’m terrible with names) went to judges houses as fodder and came through to shine.

      It’s still early days.

      Having said that I think Fourth Power have to go to the lives. They’ve got universal appeal, good voices. well choreographed and pretty much the complete package as far as talent is concerned.

      • stoney

        Yeah they were decent. Would they get enough public backing to win. I have big doubts. Have we had a foreign act win the x factor? Can’t think of one. They could be huge in asia on the back of this. So could definitely see cowell giving them a big push

        • Jessica Hamby

          They want the show to be interesting, fresh, different. Imo that’s good for Fourth Power.

          I think the foreign thing can go either way – adopted or alien? A lot of that is presentation. I don’t think nationality is automatically a handicap.

          I don’t think it’s in the show’s interests to be a triumphal procession leading to a coronation. It’s best when it at leadt appears to be a contest. That’s what gets people watching and talking about it. That last girl could easily be made to look like a coronation style if they favour her too much. She was good but not outstanding compared to the others in the way Leona was (in my opinion of course).

    • Jessica Hamby

      My other thought about the last girl is that all the “this is my life” stuff could alienate the audience. Mind you I was totally wrong about Ben Haenow last year. I was on the anyone but Ben bus from start to finish, so anything I say is to be seen through that filter.

      • stoney

        Ben who?
        What a terrible winner. They need a credible winner this year the last 2 have been awful

        • Jessica Hamby

          The standard has been terrible the last two years is why. Rough Copy in the semi final? Luke Friend in the final? Jack and Jake?

          • stoney

            Thats because every year the final acts are pretty much rejects from the previous year. Talent wise it’s been on the decline every year for the last 5 years minimum.

  • stoney

    Took 11/2 on her. First time I’ve ever backed someone straight after the first episode. Was happy to invest at this point but ive only used 10% of my proposed outright stakes. The rest will be saved for the lives

    • Jessica Hamby

      Good call. I was tempted to only virtually bet this year but I may change that after seeing Fourth Power. Potentially easy to nuke but surely a good each way bet. I wonder if there’s a one-two for the two of them.

    • Donald.

      That the LJ out of the box… personally not totally convinced just yet now that I have actually seen. Males and overs category well dampened already. Them 4th power could seriously catch on IF they want them to.

  • Nissl

    I just watched the Youtube clips.

    Louisa – Obviously a producer favorite given show slot and clip length, and it’s reasonably justified. Strong technical ability, good voice, good looks, seems interesting. Didn’t make me feel much when she sang, but can see some commercial potential anyway.

    Fourth Power – Lots of technical ability, very likable. A bit of oversinging, might grate after a while, but that’s also the song. Both a long clip and a preview clip. I think they’re a strong preliminary indication that Simon will pass on manufacturing a boyband this year, because it would be difficult to get one over the top against this group. Commercial interest is a question. Does he see them as a possible Asian Little Mix/Fifth Harmony, or are they going to get an Andrea treatment towards the finals?

    Jennifer – Very likable, strong voice. Could anchor the overs presuming they’re not looking for another winner from that category. Can see them dropping her off around the top 5 without much difficulty.

    Lauren – Excellent voice but doesn’t seem all that interesting. Might be decent backup material for the girls, but might also be a shock rejection depending on how the category shapes up.

    Tom B – Sam Smith-alike, can sing but I was tired of all his vocal mannerisms by the end, and he’s a candle. I’d say out at chair challenge or judges houses unless it’s a weak boys crop this year.

    Susan – I chuckled. I think one or two more appearances will be enough though.

    Tom D – He’s no Rylan, that’s for sure. I suppose he might be adequate to the task.

    • Jessica Hamby

      I agree with your analysis 100% Nissi. The likeability is strong in Louisa and Fourth Power. I’m not sure it’s there with Lauren. If it is, it didn’t show.

      If Susan has got more in her locker than twerking she could make the lives but with only 7 contestants and four shows she might not be needed. They could just have a singing competition!!!!

      • Jessica Hamby

        I think I got Lauren and Louisa the wrong way around. I like the dentist receptionist who went first. Preferred her to the Essex girl who went last (didn’t find her likeable).

    • Jessica Hamby

      Andrea was very static in stage and easily portrayed as a one trick pony even though he smashed the disco song. I think it will be more difficult to do that with Fourth Power. There won’t be a donut deramp either, but of course they’ll find something if they want to.

  • Daniel

    Betfair have an outright market already up!

  • Jessica Hamby

    Thoughts on song choices:

    Tom sang Make You Feel My Love – Gamu’s song which saw her dumped.

    Fourth Power sang Bang Bang – Fleur’s breakthrough song.

    I’m not a huge believer in history repeating itself but song tropes in x factor do seem to be indicative of producer intentions and voting outcomes (would anyone here put money on an artist performing That’s Life?).

    Interesting that the only ballad singer given significant airtime was Tom and Scowell said he was Marmite. The others were all soul / funk types. No rocker / blues at all yet. No significant males either (imo of course). Also Lauren, with her headband and torn jeans looked like a rock chick. There’s plenty of time for a makeover but does that really work? I’m not convinced it does. Paul Akister lost weight and dressed differently but he was still Paul Akister.

    I wonder if live judges houses are for real this year. Perform or go home. At least it would avoid chokers like Lola.

  • Boki

    Welcome back!
    Lot of good voices last night I thought. 4th power audition was indeed probably the best one I have ever seen. Not so convinced about Louisa at the current odds, btw she’s tagged as a ‘soul singer’ – not sure if that’s a positive.
    All in all most of the changes look positive (except less lives of course) including the betfair market, hopefully they play ball with live JH’s too.

  • Tpfkar

    Welcome back everyone and good luck for the season ahead. I haven’t seen last night’s show yet so behind the grain, but 2 thoughts on the ‘live’ judges houses.

    1- is it definitely live performances with a public vote, or just the contestants finding out live? If the first, then the producers will have a complete vote comparison of every act going into the first live show which they’ve never had before. The first live show may be a lot less random as a result. If it’s performances with no vote, then probably easier to stoke controversy – but surely easy to excuse a bad performance after earlier good ones, or to say’you have momentum’ – not sure that would make good tabloid stories if that’s all the producers are doing.

    2- if the second, then isn’t it more about controlling leaks? We’ve known all but a couple of the acts going through weeks in advance before, and this gives the media no edge on the public.

  • Alan

    Wouldn’t have thought it was a public vote at judges houses stage but don’t know for certain. Would have thought that the show liked the illusion that the judges pick the acts that go through to lives and also means they can get a good variety of acts through to please all demographics. Could end up with too many similar acts if they let the public decide.

  • Dan

    I’m suspecting a bit of front-loading again this year. Fourth Power, Louisa Johnson, and Jennifer Philips are likely finalists. Lauren Murray and Tom Bleasby will be bigged-up all the way to Judges’ Houses before being unceremoniously dumped.

    Also looks like Fourth Power are seasoned professionals – http://www.mirror.co.uk/tv/tv-news/x-factor-phoney-claims-girl-6348346. Looking their treatment, why invest so much in them if they don’t have a purpose to serve?

    • Jessica Hamby

      Personally not a fan of Louisa. Great technically but I didn’t like the timbre of her voice, sounded thin to me.

      Fourth Power said they’d been doing it since 2001 and entered competitions elsewhere. They clearly weren’t amateurs. Interesting to see how the public react. I suspect they won’t care. Sam Bailey?

  • Stu

    I’m excited XF is back mainly to follow Sofabet once again this year. I didn’t really analyse much of last night’s opening show due to a few distractions but I’ll give my two cents worth:

    – Starting with the Boys category, the only one given a substantial amount of airtime was Tom Bleasby who is being set up for a fall. Simon, already stating how some people won’t like his performance, is planting the seed early. Mason Noise was the only other guy to stand out in a female-packed show but a small segment along with tweets coming back to haunt him (http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/tv/news/x-factor-hopeful-mason-noise-how-is-cheryl-fernandezversini-in-the-music-business-let-alone-a-judge-10478542.html) suggest he’s not going to last long.

    – The Girls have always been favoured enough at the beginning in each series since 2008 but for the past few years have failed to justify the hype. Finally, it looks as though this will change. Lauren Murphy brought to the table a note-perfect rendition of Somebody Else’s Guy – and while she already looks to be more versatile and interesting than her namesake from last year, I think she has been completely overshadowed by other Girl – Louisa. That said, there’s a precedent for the most pimped contestant in a category to not necessarily be the longest lasting (Danyl in 2009 to Olly / Rachel in 2008 to Ruth / Cher in 2010 to Rebecca). I believe Lauren actually delivered the better vocal performance out of her and Louisa yet she didn’t receive anywhere near as much pimping.

    – In regards to the Overs, Techno Susan may be bonkers enough to be this year’s novelty act but with Louis gone from the panel, would the remaining judges really want to lose any credibility by putting her through to the lives? It’s not like she’s a Rylan type who could at least slightly hold a tune. Jennifer Phillips I can’t see being at all favoured in the long run. This year will definitely be aimed more towards the younger generations and nothing we’ve seen from Jennifer so far – bar the song choice – shows anything new, fresh or exciting. I believe the main purpose behind showing her audition was to show that this series is more upbeat, more original and more fresh. I don’t think Jennifer herself symbolises this though.

    – Now the Groups. Only one group dominated this episode and I think the producers have big things planned for 4th Power. Apologies now if this has been covered in the comments already (I’m going to read them after I’ve posted), but I find it really hard to believe that they flew from the Philippines on a whim to audition for the XF. Don’t get me wrong, I like these girls, but it does seem a bit pre-planned. Needless to say, their audition was probably the most favoured girl-group arena audition in the history of XF. They’re very “cutesy” and appear non-threatening to other girls (which worked for Little Mix). I wouldn’t be surprised if Simon is aware of the growing popularity of K-Pop and how well its pop groups work and wants to tap into that market – but for the Western world. Everything from the powerful (albeit slightly off) vocals to the tight dance routines screamed “finished product”. I’m intrigued to see how their XF journey pans out.

    All in all, promising opening show and – as a viewer – it was a lot more enjoyable than the last three years. Obviously it is too early to tell but I’m thinking a Girl or a Group will snatch it this year. A winner from those categories fits more with the idea of this series being revamped rather than yet another Over or Boy. That said, it depends how the public vote is dealt with this year.

  • DavidPoland

    It’s time to think about today’s episode,isn’t it. It seems group- and foreign- oriented. From my point of view,I’m interested in a Polish girl – hope it won’t be another humililation.
    BTW what do you think about a possibility of a Polish contestant in live finals? And (off-topically) what do you think about a girl singing 11.15 onwards(she’s 14)? (I’m sure about the look) 🙂 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MmJyFGYHbng

  • Stu

    Just another thought: it’s interesting how the likes of Jennifer and Lauren were asked to choose a different song instead of the one they intended to perform – Nick branded one song choice as “a bit X Factor audition-y” – yet they allowed Tom Bleasby to sing ‘Make You Feel My Love’ by Adele… surely that is one of the most over-performed songs in XF history since 2010? Among a sea of contestants making this series look fresh and new, we have an awkward, ballad-singing boy sticking out like a sore (boring and dated) thumb. It’ll be a chore to get rid of him if he indeed makes it through to the lives. He’s the type of contestant that would swim through to the later live shows (see Nick McDonald and Andrea) and with only 7 live shows to nuke unwanted finalists, it’ll be a tough job.

    • Jessica Hamby

      He’s a cert for a judges houses dumping. It’s written on him like Blackpool through rock.

      • Stu

        I mainly agree but part of me thinks the show will still want the “token mum/nan vote” male in order to bring in some extra guaranteed revenue. But with the statement this series is trying to make already, it wouldn’t be in the interests of the programme long-term to allow him into the lives.

        • Jessica Hamby

          I think it’s a mistake to assume you know how mums and nans are going to vote. That sugar and spice and all things nice is bs you know. Why else do you think “nice guys” are always complaining that they never get laid?

          He represents exactly what the show wants to get away from. Also his intro made him seem like a joke and personally I thought his audition was weak. Maybe if his next performances are better he’ll get through but tbh he seeks like a one tempo, one trick pony and tbh it’s a pretty dull trick. Mums and nans will be switching over to perv on Strictly if he goes through.

        • Jessica Hamby

          Nicky was one of only two singers in his year who consistently sang in tune (maybe Abi did too but song choices. general treatment and some performances was so lacklustre that she was over before she began). Imo one of the reasons the last couple of years have produced such uninspiring, MOR winners is that most of the finalists had obvious flaws or just couldn’t sing in tune.

  • Natasha

    Loads of amazing talent shown this weekend. Here’s to a good x factor this year

  • Jessica Hamby

    Did Cheryl just have to check her notes to find out whether or not Josh was going through?

  • Anyone else get winner vibes from Seann Miley More? I think he’s someone the public could really get behind, like Rhydian perhaps. And he’s been scouted by the show too, so he clearly has producer favour. Although I don’t have a clue what they’d do with him if he were to win.

    • Jessica Hamby

      I can see him doing well but not sure about winning. Depends on what else he can do. Is he comfortable with uptempo songs? Can he dance? And don’t forget that lots of people who have producer favour during the early rounds get culled at JH or nuked during live shows.

      Also, while it was a good public reaction tptb aren’t going to show their hand in the first two shows. They’ve got to keep some good people for the other audition shows.

      I was tempted to back Fourth Power after last night but then I remembered that when I tried to predict who was going out during the week I was usually wrong but when I waited until after seeing the show I was usually right. Similarly. how can you predict a winner when you haven’t even seen most of the acts.

      Personally I don’t think tptb will get behind him for the win unless he is truly head and shoulders above the rest. They’re not looking for the new Ru Paul. It’s x-factor, not Eurovision.

      • He turned down the lead role in Priscilla Queen of the Desert in Australia (so I am told) for UK X Factor, so I’d say he is capable of dancing and performing uptempo songs. Just watched the edit back and it was very very very promising. Simon in particular is a big fan. Excited to see what comes next.

  • Stu

    Okay so the second show only had four potential live finalists – The First Kings, Chloe Paige, Sean Miley Moore and Josh Daniel.

    While TFK had a strong audition – the whole set-up pre-performance didn’t look favourable. And don’t even let me start on that “intro” backdrop. It came across as egotistical, arrogant and, dare I say, delusional. It seems “authentic” groups (as opposed to manufactured-at-bootcamp groups) are getting some airtime this year during the audition rounds so if there are more to come, I don’t see TFK making it. Also singing the song that made Fleur didn’t do them any favours. 4th Power are still the ones to beat in the Groups.

    Chloe had an almost Christina Aguilera quality to her voice so is vocally competent but with the show focusing on the more uptempo acts this year, I don’t know if she’ll make the cut. That said, the other Girls given extensive exposure so far – Lauren and Louisa – haven’t delivered the most up-tempo of performances we’ve seen already.

    Sean Miley Moore is definitely one to watch. Just looking at him would make most viewers assume he’d be another OTT novelty act – but could he create his own market in Mainstream Pop? Is Simon that imaginative these days? Presuming he is indeed gay (it was never actually stated, right?) – marketing him as an out-there LGBTQ artist could actually work in today’s industry. After all, Sam Smith has blown up, Frank Ocean is a critically acclaimed and sought after musician, Macklemore’s ‘Same Love’ blew up. It’d be a risk pimping Sean for the win but it’d make the show interesting and FRESH again. Look at Conchita Wurst’s media coverage on winning Eurovision last year. The event (him winning, not the actual Eurovision event) was praised all across the internet. Maybe it’s too early days but I wouldn’t be surprised if he ends up in Rita’s category (after the audition, I’m sure many would be hashtagging #RitaBoys) and there’s a storyline of their friendship playing out.

    Finally, Josh Daniel. Him getting the closing audition tonight could have been a general pimping of him or it could just be an opportunity to show a highly emotional audition which made Simon cry for the first time on TV (I assume due to his mother’s passing – hence why he refused to comment on the performance). I wonder if the emotional connection will make Simon want to keep Josh around. His rendition of ‘Jealous’ was brilliant to say the least.

    All in all, fantastic talent in the first weekend. Only dud for me was the Tom Bleasby guy.

  • Nissl

    Just caught up on Youtube.

    First Kings were solidly entertaining but nobody really stood out in the group either vocally or in terms of personality. I suppose they could make lives as the gamma group since the show is looking for the fun factor this year.

    Chloe was another solid girls category contestant. I think her voice may be a notch short of both Lauren and Louisa, but I did find her a bit more likable than Louisa and a bit more popstar ready than Lauren. That said she could easily be out at chairs or JH depending on how the field shapes up. Best to wait and see.

    Seann is interesting. Very likable and he certainly would bring headlines. His voice was very solid but I don’t think it will stand up against the best few we have seen at the business end of the competition, as it left me a bit flat. Perhaps he might be on a Rylan like trajectory, but with much better vocals and not such over the top novelty in his performances.

    Josh Daniel was excellent vocally and very likable. I can see some actual potential there – again, a well chosen pimp slot. Let’s see how interesting he is after a few more performances, though. Also, it’s a long shot but with the brief Mason audition yesterday could we be looking at JLS mk 2? Just something to keep an eye on.

    So far we have only seen one over with a realistic chance to make the lives unless they are going to try to push Susan farther than is probably wise. Interesting.

    Agreed that this was a very good opening weekend. Lots of talent and likable people.

  • Jessica Hamby

    Auditions have been good but wofth remembering that people have weeks and even months to prepare. As the time to learn songs, routines etc gets shorter experience, confidence and musicality begin to show and pressure increases and thats when flaws start to show, mistakes creep in and the younger ones particularly fall down. So unless they’re changing the songbook (oh yes please) you can still get the situation where Sam Bailey will be performing songs she’s performed before while Tamera ends up with something she’s not just not sung but possibly never even heard (anyone remember Diamonds Are Forever?).

  • Jessica Hamby

    Predictions for mentor?

    I’m going with

    Girls – Cheryl
    Boys – Rita
    Groups – Simon
    Overs – nobody cares

    • Tim B

      Cheryl – Groups
      Rita – Boys
      Simon – Girls
      Nick – Overs

      Cheryl is almost certain to get the groups. There was a carefully edited (and otherwise utterly pointless) segment before 4th Power came on where the judges were miming to Girls Aloud’s “Sound of the Underground”. This is to subliminally remind viewers that Cheryl was in a group. Also, #CherylGroups was trending last week once the viewer vote was announced.

      The Girls category has actually never been mentored by a man before though. When Simon had Leona Lewis, that was the 18-25 category (I think), as there were only three judges. And of course, Fleur was an Over last year.

      • Jessica Hamby

        Sometimes a sports car is a penis substitute, sometimes it’s just a sports car. Same with things like that imo.

        I made the choices I did because Rita seemed to particularly bond with Sean and expressly said she wanted the boys, Simon expressly said he wanted the groups after The First Kings and Cheryl was the first to say she wanted the girls after the dentist receptionist. Apart from the Jesus lady the overs haven’t made much of an impression.

  • R

    I’m sticking with my theory that it’s a win for the Girls this year with Rita as their mentor.

    My other theory that Simon never forgives & always bides his time for revenge, making me think Cheryl will have end up with the Overs. Especially bad for Cheryl if Raign is making a return.
    I wouldn’t be surprised if Cheryl was also the first to lose all her acts, which I think was the case with Tulisa after her falling out with the producers which led to her being undermined with “fag breath” comments & articles about her being scared that singing live would damage her album sales etc.

    The other two are up in the air. Not sure if Simon wants to get close to Seann or just admire him from a distance.

    I’ll go with:

    Girls – Rita
    Overs – Cheryl
    Groups – Simon
    Boys – The other male judge

  • Martin

    Interesting first couple of shows. I think I’m going to hold out on placing any bets until I’ve seen what we are working with however if I had to choose so far i would go with Seann. I think he’ll get the support of a lot of the public as LGBT is very “in” right now, and assuming that he can dance and put on a show (which I have zero proof of) he will give that element without it being a novelty act who can’t sing. Between him having to do a few obligatory ballads in the lives, there seems like a lot of other acts who can do this too – 4th Power being another. I wouldn’t earmark them as winners but their treatment was so flattering with us being invited into their journey here, they want us on side with them and for a girl group, they looked cute rather than sexy, they sang well and they’re sisters which always helps people buy into the bond. Interestingly, “Unconditional” by Katy Perry was the song sound tracking them getting through which would support that.

    The girls were all more of the same as far as I could tell – Louisa was typically dressed down and nervous, a lovely swan story being set up although I didn’t think she was too likeable. The first girl (lauren? Laura?) I though was better and seemed more fun but with her being 25, i think the show are investing in a younger model.

    The boyband, King something, were visually impressive but I think that sort of boyband struggles usually (unless you’re JLS) and their video thing first was a bit peacock for my liking – I just don’t think there are any members that are pretty or talented enough for a female vote to catch on. They’re more Nu Vibe/The Risk than 1D or Union J.

    I don’t think there’s much traction in Jennifer, but I did appreciate the subtlety in the message that SHE GOES TO CHURCH!! Halo, Shackles (praise you), her ‘worshipping’ the crowd, Cheryl coining the phrase “you took it to church” (check t-pain’s back catalogue I’m pretty sure he got there first) – whether that’s them trying to piece together some sort of story or just a coincidence coz she genuinely goes to church a lot I’m not sure.

    Tom B wasn’t for me – he was shoved on after two ‘performers’ and thus ended up looking dull by comparison. Simons marmite comment won’t have helped, but he can hold a tune. He’s what they are trying to steer away from so I can’t see them letting him catch on. josh was nice, had a decent story with him but was ultimately overshadowed by simon crying. That can be used as a plus for him later on though.

    • Jessica Hamby

      With Cheryl describing one lad from First Kings as the star, it’s possible they could ask him to leave at bootcamp stge either to go solo or to be part of a new band.

      I wonder if the church thing will be used to pigeonhole Jennifer, and slow any momentum she might get in the lives. I can certainly see her getting through.

      As far as the girls go, the last two years seem to have been planned for girls, with Hannah / Tamera and then Lola / Lauren and neither of those worked out. If they want a 17 year old to win it they’re definitely going to make sure she gets songs she’s familiar with at the live stage, ideally that she has already sung. For me Fourth Power, who’ve been doing it for years and already won compretitions, and Sean, who if he was up for the lead in Priscilla will have been doing it for years too, are the two stand out favourites so far – but it’s still early days.

      • Martin

        I think the church thing for Jennifer could go either way. We’ve not had anything as blatant as this so far – some of Jahmene’s performances had gospel themes but it was never his ‘thing’. I get what you mean with it putting her in a box, meaning she won’t gather many extra voters though.

        I think it’s really difficult with a girl – Ella Henderson has shown that girls can be successful after the show, but they need to be careful how they treat them. There was nothing wrong with Lauren Platt, she was just a bit vanilla. They need someone with a bit of a quirk but not so much that it restricts their vote or scares away votes. Louisa’s voice was interesting enough, but for me she came across a little cold. Awkward nervous, not endearing nervous.

    • Could be the X Factor’s Conchita moment?

  • Ben Cook

    Ouch – 5.9m for show 2. If the live shows get below 6m will Simon pull the plug?

    • Jessica Hamby

      Not without paying a huge penalty fee. He’s contractually obliged until 2016 (so 1 more series after this one).

      • Jessica Hamby

        Having said that, ITV probably have an escape clause where if viewing figures drop below a certain point they get a rebate or can drop the show or something. However given the amount of work that goes into making the show, the later in the series, the lower that rebate (conjecture obv, I’ve not seen or read the contract, it’s probably hundreds of pages and dull as ditchwater). It’s all about advertising revenue for ITV so I would imagine it’s not just numbers but the kind of viewer that matters. They want to be able to market to large numbers of (preferably homogenous) people with disposable income.

        It would make for an interesting negotiation (and a few lawyers probably have swimming pools and second homes because of it).

    • Dan

      Ouch indeed. However, bear in mind that this series has launched on a bank holiday weekend and viewing figures are likely to be depressed to an extent as people are away. I’ll be interested to see what they are like next weekend, especially since it will be up against Strictly.

      Given that these are the overnight figures, I wonder how many people will watch on catch-up? Telly on demand is the future and that’s where people are migrating to, especially the younger generations.

  • It will definitely have to stay on the air for the rest of the series – ITV have released its schedule up until December, far too much money will have been invested, it’s too short notice to find a replacement show (and any replacement would attract even lower ratings).

    However, I wouldn’t be surprised if next year’s series is the last, and they make a big fanfare about it going out with a bang.

    • R

      I can see next year being the last series too.
      Maybe Cowell have changed his priorities following his mother’s passing. One Dirge are splitting & the show does seem to be on it’s last legs, so maybe he’s happy to pack his bags and retire to his holiday home/island.

      • Jessica Hamby

        It’s a long way ahead to make that prediction imo. This series has hardly started and may yet prove to be a big improvement on the last two years. I certainly don’t think Scowell is ready for retirement yet.

  • stoney

    I think its glaringly obvious the show has had its day. They are not going to win back the viewers that have deserted it no matter what they do. And it’s there own fault. However it’s still got better rating than their other programs so pulling the plug mid series is definitely not going to happen

  • Jessica Hamby

    Speculation and possible spoilers on who reaches the six vhair challenge are already appearing.

    http://forums.digitalspy.co.uk/showthread.php?t=2098807

  • Ron

    Two quick observations. Whenever a group auditioned, Simon always asked how they came together. I assume this is done to emphasise that these groups have formed organically (friends, classmates, siblings) rather than put together by a cynical pop svengali (Simon Cowell).

    Also – when The First Kings performed, as slick and extravagant as it was, there were plenty of reaction shots of girls in the audience. The implication: “They love TFK, you can too!”

  • Seann Miley Moore, who has been mentioned a couple of times, is my pick so far too. Best voice and best performance and the most memorable. (Also had the shock value as you start off thinking – what the hell is this).

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