X Factor 2015 Boot Camp Week 1: A Montage Is Worth A Thousand Words

Being a betting blog, we’re interested in what’s been filmed but not yet aired, so we start this week with our usual warning: if you wish to avoid spoilers, do not read on.

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It will not have escaped the attention of readers who have been following spoilers that the montage shown at the close of Saturday’s final audition show – which looked back on the talent unearthed during the previous seven episodes – consisted almost entirely of acts who are rumoured to make judges’ houses. This is a clever subliminal aimed at the majority of viewers who are not aware of the spoilers: the purpose is to plant the thought that these are the best acts we’ve seen, so that when they are the ones who end up making it through the six-chair challenges over the next few weeks, viewers will have more a sense that the judges’ decisions were right.

The question then becomes: what might this montage suggest about which of the final 24 are producers currently anticipating will make the final 12, and be given a push when they get there?

In the girls category, Louisa Johnson opened the montage and got more screentime than any of the other girls. That reinforces the impression initially created when Louisa was chosen to close the opening audition show, that producers are still currently seeing her as their alpha girl, and quite likely overall Plan A.

In the groups category, 4th Power got plenty more screentime than any of the others.

In the overs, Jennifer Phillips, Anton Stephans and Bupsi all got decent screentime, none of the others did – which mirrors their treatment in the auditions themselves.

In the boys, Seann Miley Moore’s position in the montage pimp slot reinforces the sense that he is being thought of as our alpha boy at this stage, while Simon Lynch and Josh Daniel got more screentime than the others.

We suspect this brief montage at the end of Saturday’s show provided a more significant insight into producers’ current thinking than Sunday’s first bootcamp episode, which seemed to have been conceived primarily as a way to fill another two hours of airtime in a schedule that has needed to be adapted to fit around the Rugby World Cup. Before we come to that boot camp episode, though, let’s deal briefly with the two remaining acts introduced in the final audition show.

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Kerrie-Anne Phillips received very little screentime, clearly dividing the overs category into two groups of three: Kerrie-Anne, Max Stone and Ebru Gursoy, who have been short-changed in the audition screentime department; and Jennifer Phillips, Anton Stephans and Bupsi, who all had much longer segments. We didn’t find out much more about Kerrie-Anne than that she’s given up a job in Dubai to audition. Kerrie-Anne, Max and Ebru each now need a gamechanging edit in next week’s bootcamp episode and/or the six-chair challenge to alter the impression that they have, at best, an outside chance of making it to the lives as the category gamma.

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You couldn’t help but smile along with cheerful Ghanaian duo Menn On Point. Cowell summed it up, as he so often does, expressing doubts about the vocals but saying they bring “sunshine”, they’re “completely nuts” and “I love it”. They would certainly brighten up the live shows as a fun act intended to be jettisoned before the business end. With 4th Power looking nailed on for one of the group slots, whether producers decide to run with Menn on Point in the interests of light entertainment presumably depends on whether they consider two or only one of the other groups (Alien, The First Kings, Bekln, Silver Tone) to have sufficient commercial potential to be worth putting through.

Sunday’s first bootcamp episode provided relatively little grist for the analytical mill, with no extended VTs or audience reaction shots and minimal judge feedback. Overall, advancing the narrative of the favoured acts in this episode seemed to take something of a backseat to creating conditions which were likely to foment some entertaining bust-ups. There were, however, still some indications of favour, notably sotto voce comments among the judging panel.

It will presumably have been no coincidence that both Louisa Johnson and 4th Power found themselves closing the episode, in a feelgood segment which saw all the acts progress to the next stage, reinforcing the sense of them as the alphas in their respective categories. “I love Louisa Johnson”, said Grimmy helpfully as she came on stage. Both acts sounded good, although it should be said that much of what we heard on Sunday likely involved some post-production as many vocals sounded too good to have been recorded straight from a windy stage.

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Kiera Weathers, who looks like Louisa’s main rival for alpha girl status, also got sotto voce judge approval, being called “adorable” and “classy” as she walked on stage. Sofabet commenters debated whether being shown bickering with her fellow group auditionees was a negative for Kiera, or a positive given that she was shown as the one banging heads together; our view is that the edit was clearly trying to help. We remain fascinated to see whether producers will continue their apparent preference for Louisa over Kiera.

Of the other girls, Monica Michael was also portrayed as being the reasonable party in a bicker, and her sympathetic reaction to the elimination of her nemesis Princess added to the sense of her being someone viewers will root for. Chloe Paige’s group was shown only briefly, but Simon made a point of calling her “amazing”. Lauren Murray was criticised for not demanding a bigger part. Havva Rebka wasn’t sighted.

By contrast with Lauren, Simon had just praised Alien for “making it all about you”, because “honestly that’s how you succeed in the music business”. Whether this frank advice will endear them to viewers is another matter; they still come across as Pineapple Dance Studios wannabes. Of the other groups, Bekln were fine but somewhat overshadowed by Bupsi; Silver Tone were bit-part players in the ritual humiliation of Ryan Ruckledge; and neither The First Kings nor Menn On Point featured.

Of the overs, both Jennifer Phillips and Bupsi acquitted themselves well enough in Bekln’s group, while Anton Stephans made an awkward joke comparing Simon to God before struggling with an unfamiliar song. Simon affectionately called Anton a “diva”, also however observing that he was “bad compared to his first audition”.

Ben Clark, who got least screentime of the six boys during the audition stages, had an “I love his voice” from Rita; she also name-checked Josh Daniel, who got to be shown calling his mum. Grimmy was heard saying “not that exciting” about somebody after Simon Lynch and Tom Bleasby had performed in the same group. Seann Miley Moore’s group was shown more briefly, but Simon made sure to communicate “I love him”. Che Chesterman wasn’t seen.

Next weekend’s second bootcamp episode, with individual performances, should tell us more.

Two closing observations. After admiring Wagner’s jacket in last year’s grand final, we were pleased to see confirmation in Sunday’s bootcamp show that Sofabet is exerting a subliminal influence on the X Factor’s stylists (hat-tip Tim B).

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And in case you missed last week’s news, producers have dropped plans announced at the start of the series to hold judges’ houses live. Instead, the performances will be recorded, and only the news of who makes it through will be given out live, on the Sunday show.

The advance filming of judges’ houses performances raises the question of how far in advance of being publicly communicated the decisions on who makes the lives will have been privately made. Betfair punters may be asking themselves nervously whether any market move might reflect a leak of inside information; usually, Betfair opens its market only when the final 12 are confirmed.

Still, presumably producers will be planning to go through the usual studio and makeover preparations with all 24 acts in the run-up to that Sunday judges’ houses show, so perhaps they’ll see how that goes and leave it late to make the final call.

Explaining the change of heart on live judges’ houses performances to the Mirror, a “source” cited logistical concerns which you would think should have been obvious when they considered the idea in the first place. We can’t help but wonder if there’s been some change in thinking that it would help us to deduce, but our suspicion is it’ll likely be more cock-up than conspiracy: perhaps one of the higher-ups insisted on announcing it before the subordinates had had time to figure out whether it could work. If you have any theories on this, do share them in the comments below, as well as any thoughts about the weekend’s shows and how this series is evolving overall.

X Factor images ©SYCO/THAMES TV/PA

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62 comments to X Factor 2015 Boot Camp Week 1: A Montage Is Worth A Thousand Words

  • Fudd

    I’ll take a gamble with Judges Houses that they expected ratings to be higher from the off to warrant the additional expense of four live locations and working from there. It’s a cheaper option to record each segment in turn as they have other years.

    But maybe I am just cynical!

    • Martin

      I think the plan would have always been to pre-record the actual JH auditions, with the “decisions” going out live at each location. I think it’s probably a mix of both scenarios – the ratings don’t warrant the extra expense and logistically it’s going to be complicated. They would have always known that of course, and it’s 2015 – things like time delays and technical glitches don’t stop Good Morning Britain having correspondents all over the world but ultimately, I don’t think it will make a difference to the viewer whether Jennifer Phillips is told she’s through to live shows on a beach in St Tropez or on a sofa in London.

    • Jessica Hamby

      Are you sure that the fee paid for the show is dependent on ratings? I don’t know about that. I think doing four JHs at the same time means 4 different teams and limits producer control (noone can be in 4 locations at once). Also live shows are risky because unexpected things can happen and can’t be unbroadcast (eg Rylan’s conversation with Gary or Katy Waissell sitting down and refusing to sing).

      If what we think about the level or control tptb exercise is correct then a live show at this stage is an unnecessary risk imo.

  • David Cook

    The idea of the live judges houses appeared to put things on a very tight schedule – previously there was at least 3 weeks between acts finding out they had made it through and the first live show, which is now compressed into 1 week. Even if TPTB don’t tip off the final 12 in advance at least this cut out the time for flying back from the locations. It also allows the producers to prepare in advance on the basis of a known final 12 – so I don’t think they’ll be leaving it as late as the live Sunday show to make the decisions.
    Great articles and comments already this year – I’m catching up having been on holiday – so there’s plenty to think about.

  • Jessica Hamby

    Looking at Alien’s website (http://www.alienglobal.com) it seems obvious that they’ve formed specifically for the show. The only performances on it are their audition and bootcamp efforts.

  • EM

    I suspect it’s part logistics and part viewing potential that has pulled Live Judges Houses.

    They would’t be too worried about lack of control, technology these days enables many things. But you would need 4 full crews at each location to make it happen. As well as the expense that means your fourth best director, make up artist, lighting man etc etc all come in to play.

    Then creatively you get straight performances. Not the nuanced edits that Judges Houses normally bring. Very little opportunity to see Simon and Sinata mysterious discussing the acts and trying to suss out who they are talking about etc. It feels like a much more boring programme than they normally do.

    Not to mention this would be Olly and the other one’s first live show of the main series… do you want it to be so tough to do?

  • Chris

    No bekln or silver tone in the montage at the top of the page .. any bookies offering odds on the “completely unpredictable twist” of them being merged into one group yet?

  • Martin

    I know there is little to no evidence to support a correlation between youtube views, I say this as a disclaimer. I shouldn’t be, but I am surprised that Josh Daniels has the most views of this series. Surely that has more to do with him making Simon cry, rather than his average rendition of “Jealous”, that song by Labrinth which nobody remembers?

    I wouldn’t be surprised to see the other four as the final four, come December. It seems that the youtube-viewing public are playing ball with the Louisa/Fourth Power/Seann Miley Moore favouritism so far.

  • Jessica Hamby

    Fourth Power are now called Fourth Impact. Or maybe 4th Impact.

    I don’t get it either. Still think they’re a shoo-in for the final though.

  • Donald

    Catching up after busy week. Saw last Sunday. Wonder what this week brings. Front runners well known with six chair leaks.

    Nothing absolutely rocking the socks off my boat yet. 4th Power and Simon maybe. This Alien thing is frustrating. Gold colours already.

    Judges in blankets and fire behind in last week camp. They must.have arrived well late! It all looked a bit drab and was edited and audio dubbed to death.

    The game might get raised tonight. Needs to. It is all average at best and so staged going through the.motions producer stuff. There will be a winner though 🙂

  • Jessica Hamby

    Simon doing “First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” seemed like a mistake to me. Inevitable comparison with Matt Cardle and Matt did it a lot better.

  • Joe

    Happy to have put a few quid on Sean after seeing his first audition, 10/1 seemed a good price. Feeling more confident as he got great coverage tonight at boot camp with high praise from the judges.

    Cheryl’s comment ‘will the audience get him?’ softens viewers up to reassure them that any doubts they had can be put to one side.

  • Cath

    I don’t think Sean could have been any more pimped if they tried!
    Simon: ”Think like a winner”, was particularly telling, wishful thinking on his part….?

  • Loved Seann’s coverage tonight. He is actually my biggest bet I’ve had on the X Factor. Obviously don’t know if he’s going to win but it’s looking like a great trade.

  • Jessica Hamby

    I’m not convinced Seann is a strong enough singer compared to some of the others and I think the slightly neurotic diva personality could become irritating. The diva thing puts me off Anton too, who I think would have a shout if he wasn’t such a wibbling wuz.

    Winners tend to be conventional and even a bit dull both vocally and in personal style or the best singers in the competition. Leon Jackson beat Rhydian. Ben Haenow beat Fleur. Matt Cardle beat Rebecca Ferguson. And best singers were Leona or Sam Bailey. Seann isn’t conventional or the best.

    Personal opinion of course.

    • Panos

      Jessica, I couldn’t agree more with every word you wrote even if I wanted to.

      • Jessica Hamby

        To clarify, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with diva. I love a bit of diva. It’s the neuroses, the insecurity and angst, whether faux or not, that bugs me. And when you combine that with a diva you get a drama queen, which is never a good look dahling.

  • Lia

    Seriously underwhelmed by bootcamp. The way it went they laid out the stories and followed whatever the plan is, regardless of performance. Simon seems to be even pushier for the acts he likes, even if no one else understands. That usually leads to some epic fails in the live shows.

    • Jessica Hamby

      I get the feeling they want Louisa, Fourth Impact and AN Other in the final – possibly Seann. Lauren’s crumble under pressure was ominous for the live shows and a huge contrast with Louisa who clearly loves performing and handles her nerves very differently (said she went elsewhere and was just into the music).

      Maybe one of the overs could fill the third final spot. At the moment Simon is a poor Matt Cardle up against superior opposition and Che has a Paul Akister look about him. I still think it would be in his interests to go home at JH and come back after a year of exploring.

      As soon as The First Kings came on with their formation dancing I thought of Take That. The choreography was painfully dated and a massive contrast with Fourth Impact who seemed very current even though their look was very ‘girl next door’. Alien remind me of Blonde Electra with inferior vocals but I only heard them. I didn’t see the performance. If they go through it’s hard to see them as anything but fodder right now.

      It’s my feeling that while Louisa, Seann or Fourth Impact would have to shoot a policeman to fail to get to the lives there are still some places open. I haven’t paid much attention to the overs. I need to change that.

      • Martin

        Che is being treated very curiously. It’s like they hate him, apart from when he sings. They spent his entire build up last night being sarcastic and snidey, then he sang, they loved his voice and then said he has no personality or charisma. Personally, I don’t love him – Seann, Simon and Josh seem to be the obvious three to go through with Che being lined up for a JH chop as you say.

      • Fudd

        Simon has always made the final whilst he’s been on the show and I don’t know why they would change it this year; especially as he appears to be losing his magic touch in terms of the viewing figures.

        The following is based on the Six Chair Challenge spoilers so if any are wrong, this will be way out:

        I think Jennifer is his best bet and she has been present throughout each stage, with a pimp slot (alongside some other big hitters) for the group performance and an interview after her solo performance at boot camp. Her audition had a ‘current’ feel about it so they know she has it in her locker. I highly doubt they’ll want her to win but to keep Simon’s run going they’ll try and get her through.

        My issue with Anton is two fold – he hasn’t found a modern edge to any of his performances and his performances remind me of Antonio Popeye from Britain’s Got Talent. He has a strong voice and they may be able to push him through like Andrea but I just feel the latter was always more likeable plus he didn’t have a ‘fake’ story doing the rounds about him. Unless they want the overs to be an all female category (and they had an all male Overs category in Series 6) it’s between him and Max Stone, the forgettable professional musician who has been airbrushed from X Factor history but will have to make an appearance at some point over the next three week if the spoilers are correct.

        Kerri-Anne has very much been airbrushed as well. Along with Ebru, she got a montaged audition; type in ‘Kerri-Anne Phillips’ into YouTube’s search and an official clip doesn’t even appear (same with ‘Kerri-Anne Phillips The X Factor’ – at least not for me). Which leaves Bupsi v Ebru for the final slot; that’s Ebru who has been montaged at both the audition and boot camp stages and Bupsi who has been given far more time but might fish in the same pool as Jennifer in terms of votes and has a limited vocal range – unless they see her as entertainment fodder which is very possible.

        So my post Boot Camp gamble for the Overs is
        Alpha: Jennifer
        Beta: Anton
        Gamma: Ebru but wouldn’t be surprised with Bupsi

        Girls time. Louisa Johnson – obvious really. She’s going to have to have a momentous meltdown at Judges Houses for her place to be at risk considering the time and pimping they’ve given her up to now.

        Lauren was sound vocally but fudged her lyrics at Boot Camp and ‘started wrong’ in her audition. There must be serious question marks over her production wise even at this early stage. It’s also worth noting that Simon told her that ‘now is the time to think like a competitor’ whilst Seann got ‘think like a winner’.

        Chloe seems to be a slow starter, with a decent audition if not one of the star turns, but she hit it out of the park in the group challenge and Simon looked happy enough during her solo performance. But I don’t think she’s been given enough air time to consider her a contender above Gamma role.

        Unlike Monica, who has been given plenty of edit time to date and she’s got quite a unique voice. The debate will be whether she is being pushed as Melanie McCabe or Paul Akister. I think there may be an issue with her likeability but, with the show trying to push the ‘feelgood’ factor more this year (apparently) I don’t think they’ll let her go again unless she struggles at Judges Houses – and that hasn’t always stopped them. Indeed, I can see her being the pantomime villain if the necessary ingredients come together.

        This means I don’t think Havva will make it as vocally they’re not that dis-similar. Another act who had an issue with her Boot Camp performance, which was helpfully montaged into the bargain, she’s well behind both Louisa and Monica in the exposure stakes.

        This leaves Kiera. Pimp slot for her audition, distinctive voice, strong edit for group stage of bootcamp (question of bickering aside but I’ll bow down to those who think she and Monica both came across as professional). But Cheryl’s final comment prior to her solo boot camp performance carried a lot of weight for me – “This is the girl that I was saying was good; I hope she doesn’t let us down”. Firstly the use of ‘girl’ rather than her name (unlike Louisa who was name-checked by Nick and ‘she’s amazing’ – present tense – from Cheryl). Then the use of ‘was’ rather than ‘is’; she was good but isn’t so good now? Then the final ‘don’t think of an elephant’ comment in ‘I hope she doesn’t let us down’ resulting in viewers wondering if she’s letting the judges down throughout her performance. I think they’ll keep her ticking over for a couple of weeks to ensure Louisa takes off and then look to eliminate her. If Louisa struggles either prior to the lives or at the lives she may spring from Gamma to Alpha.

        But for now, my post Boot Camp gamble for the Girls is
        Alpha: Louisa
        Beta: Monica
        Gamma: Kiera

        The Boys and Seann is as certain as Louisa for a slot; indeed I’d say even more certain as they could treat him as television gold even if he does have issues at Judges Houses, almost twisting him into a Katie Waissel/Cher rather than Alpha Boy. I am almost waiting for a Rylan-like meltdown when they put him through even now. They may be intending to treat him as Alpha Boy for now but I cannot see it lasting.

        Josh Daniels has also had a very good start, with the emotional edit of his audition performance. I think he was given enough time over Boot Camp to keep him ticking over (Rita with a quick name check before the group performance) without allowing his potential vote to be uncontrollable during the live shows. He has the backstory and the voice to let him fly if they want him to but I think they’re keeping the cage shut for now and don’t intend to open it too wide. I wonder if they may have to accept the hand the public will deal them and open the door at some stage, though.

        The ‘boring’ tag has already been dropped with Che Chesterman, from Simon at Boot Camp, but we’ve also seen Caroline/Olly praise him and Rita smile happily during his performance. I don’t think he has the personality to drive through a performance and, if they put him through, they could have a Christopher Maloney on their hands with less time to deramp him. The other possibility is they’re setting ‘Che’ up to be the anti-judge (Simon) candidate but, whilst the likes of Jedward, Wagner, Johnny, Rylan, Sam and Stevie had the composure to take this on I don’t think Che has.

        Tom Bleasby limped through his group performance after basically being told that he’s ‘marmite’ during his audition. His solo performance didn’t appear at all last night and I don’t the show has any long term commitment towards him.

        Which leaves Simon or Ben. Was First Time I Ever Saw Your Face a good choice at Boot Camp for the former? I know it’s already been mentioned on here but the first thing I thought of when he hit the opening notes was ‘Matt Cardle’. He got a proper VT for his audition stage (though ‘If I Were A Boy’ just made me wonder if his parents had omitted this fact when speaking to him when he was younger) and had the judges smiling during Man in the Mirror for the group performance.

        As for Ben Rita loves, or has been told to love, him. I think he has more sex appeal than Simon – as flagged by Rita early on – and his voice seems more commercial with the rock edge. But they haven’t shown any real commitment to him at this stage; they’ve shown him enough to keep him open as a possibility and he may stand out more against Seann and Josh (who I can see being a late Alpha if required). Unless Simon lets rip with something slightly different at Six Chair or Judges Houses I think they may go for a shock result within the category.

        My post Boot Camp gamble for the Boys is
        Alpha: Seann (intended but won’t last)
        Beta: Josh (think he’ll become Alpha as the competition goes on)
        Gamma: Ben

        With the Groups 4th Impact, as they now are, have to be the Alpha choice considering the amount of time and attention lavished on them. They’re there for the performances as much as the vocals and they’ll be looking for them to put on a show each and every week.

        The First Kings had a polished audition which was extremely staged – talk about putting their name in lights. I found it interesting that Simon and Cheryl both claimed one of the group was the ‘main man’, which appeared to be a deramping technique for both Nu Vibe and The Risk. They then disappeared for the first stage of Boot Camp before reappearing for the second stage which resulted in Caroline and Olly questioning their dancing (a la Louis with FYD) and Rita or Cheryl bickering over vocals v performance. You’re Hot and You’re Cold… Cheryl is their mentor so could ensure they stick to a ‘modern’ approach if that’s the narrative the producers want to take.

        At least they appeared at the second stage of Boot Camp which is more than can be said for BEKLN who disappeared completely from the edit for the second boot camp stage after basically being upstaged by Jennifer, Bupsi and the gril who forgot the lyrics in the first stage. Though that may be preferable to Silver Tone, who were first on last night and were promptly told they were ignoring judge’s advice and going backwards. Redemption in the offing or just an offing? If they want to help Jennifer as much as possible I can see them

        Alien have butchered their way through three songs to get this stage but that hasn’t put off the production team before. That said I can’t see why they would put Alien through with 4th Impact considering they could well fish in the same voting pool? We know very little about them in the great scheme of things whereas 4th Impact have the backing story, the favourable edits and the stories in the press.

        Menn on Point turned up in a favourable edit at the audition stage when they performed after a number of dull acts. Simon compared them to Beavis and Butthead, said they would bring the sunshine before immediately going to the judges vote… where Cheryl gave them the ‘biggest yes of the day’. Nick said ‘he saw gold’. They then disappeared completely from Boot Camp but part of me can’t help wondering whether it’s to ensure their shtick doesn’t get too old too quickly. Bring them back with a bang at the Six Chair Challenge, with maybe some questions from Simon in relation to the vocals, and set them on their way?

        The only issue would be that would result in three foreign acts in the top twelve whereas previously I don’t think they’ve had more than two – and Seann and 4th Impact look like shoe ins. But, other than 4th Impact, none of the groups have had a great time of it and the pushing of the ‘funny’ ‘sunshine’ button just makes me wonder. If the Girls and the Overs are going to be relatively predictable maybe they’ll look to spice up a relatively weak Groups category.

        My post Boot Camp gamble for the Groups is
        Alpha: 4th Impact
        Beta: The First Kings
        Gamma: Menn on Point

        This is just me spouting a load of rubbish though and the Six Chair Challenge could change all this. Sorry to everyone who’s taken their time out to read it. :-$

  • Martin

    After last night, I’m in no doubt that Louisa is overall Plan A, with Fourth Power/Impact B, and Seann C. Louisa has had no negative treatment thus far – Fourth Power had “it wasn’t as good as their previous auditions” (which didn’t seem that harmful, as it wasn’t, but also gave the impression that it was still good – moreso because their previous outings were AMAZING!!!). Also, not sure if it’s just me but the camera work for them was a lot more complimentary than anybody elses. It may have just been that they were the only ones who did a performance, but there was so much more movement.

    Seann had his “moment” last night, I think. He memory holed the other two acts who will probably go through with him – Simon and Josh, and he’s come out of it as the most talked about act. I think his diva/drama queen shtick will wear thin if he doesn’t have the talent to back it up. Time will tell, but I think the general attitude to him at the moment is “oh, he’s dresses like a woman. But that’s ok, he’s a really good singer”. If he can keep that up, I think he’ll go all the way.

    Pretty much everyone else had a negative thrown their way. Jennifer Phillips I assume is alpha over, but I think the intention is to keep the overs out of the final. Simon is, all of a sudden, the biggest fan of gospel of all time, and wasn’t impressed that her (or Silver Tone) dared to not stay in their lane. Simon Lynch disappointed Grimmy, Josh also sang a crap song, Anton was too nervous, Keira now has a horrible voice, Alien’s interpretation of “Diamonds” was horrific, Bupsy was ill and First Kings were dated. Poor Tom Bleasby and Menn on Point have disappeared.

    I think the bootcamp shows are a bit tedious now, but they’re painting their intentions quite clearly now.

  • Stu

    It looks like I may have to eat my words – Kiera is definitely not the Plan A in the Girls category after that “I don’t like her voice” comment. Obviously there is time for Simon to do a complete U-turn on her but it wouldn’t exactly look good if an act signed to Simon’s label has a voice he just doesn’t like. Louisa definitely does look like the Plan A but I still have my doubts on whether she can go all the way. I think female contestants have to have something extraordinary about them to win over the voting public and win but I just find Louisa a bit… plain. It all depends on what musical direction she’s taken in during the lives. If it is the Lauren route of dull ballad after dull ballad, then her appeal will soon wear thin.

    One thing that stood out to me was the treatment of Che. The judges love his voice but, unless I misheard, Simon and Cheryl agreed that he’d be boring even before he sang. Immediately after these comments, cue him singing the song that had already been performed by at least 2 other contestants beforehand – and it isn’t like he changed up the song or anything… I still think the top 3 boys will be Seann, Josh and Simon – favoured from most to least in that order.

    4th Power/Impact are unsurprisingly the most favoured group yet again. I don’t think the “it wasn’t their best performance” comment was that harmful. They’ve been hyped enough by the judges so far and we know what happens to talent show contestants who get overhyped whilst on the show (SuBo, Danyl). That said, after their performance, the judges squabbling over who’s best suited to the Groups category would counteract any negativity in Simon’s comment.

    Also interesting that TFK were called dated by their future mentor. With no airtime the previous week, and being called dated during a series that is trying its hardest to appear fresher than ever, it doesn’t look too good for them.

  • David Cook

    It’s possible that they’ll have another 4 act final, as in 2010, which might improve the chance of Simon getting an act to the final. With only 7 weeks of live shows this would then need just 2 weeks with double eliminations. The filming and selection of acts going through so far was made before Simon knew that he was going to be lumbered with the ‘overs’ again this year. The selections look like they’ve been made so as to pose no threat to the leading contenders – so no wonder Simon is alleged to be none too pleased.

    • Martin

      I was about to mention this about the overs. Simon made it perfectly clear whilst canvassing for Twitter votes that he didn’t want the overs, which surely can be used as VT ammunition for unwanted acts – the edit suggests the show is just as disinterested in them. I’d say Jennifer Phillips is the only chance of him having an act at the business end, would he really want to push an act with zero commercial potential above other more lucrative acts for pride?
      This time last year we assumed Jay James (sorry for the reminders) was plan a, and we ended up with the other two overs as finalists. This year, they’re virtually invisible. I can’t see it.

      • Jessica Hamby

        May I point out that I didn’t have JJ as alpha anything last year, as some may remember 🙂

      • Fudd

        I wouldn’t say either Jennifer or Anton have been invisible in the edit; both have been given a fair amount of time and relative positive at that – if not to the levels of Louisa. Anton is very old fashioned which will be an immediate red flag. Jennifer has sung a song from this century (just) and did it well which may give them room to maneuver.

        They won’t want her to win but I think they will want to keep Simon’s record going so she will be in the final – a four person final will make it easier for them to do this without losing one of the other Alphas.

  • Jessica Hamby

    Agree that Louisa is ahead of Keira in the pecking order. I think song choice will help / hinder Louisa. If the songbook stays stuck in the 80s then she may struggle. If they go for more current songs, which I think they will, she will find it easier because she already knows them.

    • Stu

      I think if Rita took Louisa down the Pop/Rock route, she’ll do good. She could be morphed into an up-to-date Kelly Clarkson.

    • Martin

      I think we’ll see Louisa’s treatment almost identical to that of Rebecca Ferguson. I took the trouble of rewatching Rebecca’s “X Factor Journey” a few nights back – as painful as that was, it was interesting to note that they somehow managed to give her exactly the same comments for almost her entire run on the show. It wasn’t until week 6 or 7 she even got a negative comment, and that was that she wasn’t moving around the stage rather than anything to do with her vocals or personality. Of course, the week after they gave her a catwalk to walk down and she was hailed as the greatest dancer the show has ever seen.

      If they are serious about Louisa, I’d suggest they follow that template – she’s had nothing negative so far, she’s shown that she can walk about a bit. Song choice wise, I’d leave her in her bluesy/soul comfort zone and when her vote is wavering, bring her up to date when they have to with maybe “Ghost” by Ella Henderson or the countless 60s girlband rip offs we’ve had in the last few years.

  • Jessica Hamby

    I think Alien will get the nod ahead of The First Kings unless TFK massively up their game. It’s useful to have an act or two that can be reliably thrown to the wolves in the first weeks so that the more promising contestants can get their feet wet, make mistakes and get used to the live show format without putting themselves in danger. The horror that was Blonde Electra last year, for example, was so total that it didn’t matter what anyone else did. Alien could fill exactly the same role, plus they’re sexy and attractive and any tv show likes a bit of that.

    • Jessica Hamby

      The other reason I think Alien will make the final is that the show needs to be entertaining tv. It needs its car crash moments, Andrea as a devil, BE doing Kids In America, even Luke Friend in that stupid boat with everyone thinking WTF.

      Alien can provide one of those. They can be traumatisingly bad and THAT is entertainment.

      • Stu

        Alien clearly aren’t getting the most favourable treatment so far but I do think there’s some potential. If they get to the lives (which I personally think they will), they are very disposable but I don’t think it’ll be in the show’s best interests to dispose of them early. As you say, they are reliable entertainment but they have a commercial and current look/image that, if handled right, could go far. But the question is, do the producers want them posing a threat to 4th Power/Impact? Can two girl-groups coexist on the live shows? History suggests not but then prior to 2011, history suggested a girl-group could never win the show.

        • Jessica Hamby

          Do you think they will have a demo to delight by the time the lives start? I don’t.

          • Stu

            Probably not. It’s difficult to know what exactly makes a popular girl-group (in XF terms) since we only have one example – Little Mix. I think their unthreatening look(s) and Tulisa’s “they won’t steal your boyfriends” declaration helped them massively (and should help 4th Power/Impact massively) whereas Alien will, err, alienate the voting public. But, and this is a big BUT, sexy, scantily-clad, all-dancing albeit not-fantastic-at-singing Fleur won over the voting public last year. Some show-stopping choreography along with positive VTs/judges’ comments could go a long way.

          • Jessica Hamby

            If you think they’re worth a punt then don’t hold back because of me. I think that if someone wanted to make a chart band out of them and was prepared to put the time and effort in they might work out.

            My reservations are that x factor is not known for nurturing potential, they like acts that are as close to finished articles as possible AND in terms of the other acts I think Alien are lacking in vocal quality and likeability (note: they may be lovely but they’ve not been given a chance to show it).

          • Stu

            Oh no I definitely don’t think they’d win. I just think they could end up going quite a bit further than a lot of people expect.

  • Martin

    yeah 4th Power are adorable rather than sexy. I think Fleur was successful because she seemed nice, and she was too old to steal anybody’s boyfriend.

    • Jessica Hamby

      While Alien’s signature move seems to be dip, open the knees and flash the flange. Classic early elimination material.

      Louisa, 4th Impact, Lauren, Seann, even Menn On Point will all already have fans. With Alien I just don’t see it.

  • stoney

    Damn having caught up on boot camp i wish i had gone in full pelt with louisa at 11/2
    Im confident they should be able to see her past the winning post this year. They are already deramping Simon who would be the hardest to stave off in the live shows. And for that reason i wouldn’t be surprised to see him ditched at judges houses. Seann is very good but i can see him dividing opinion and tptb should be able to chuck him under the bus if plan A goes the way they hope.

    • Jessica Hamby

      Agreed. I had a Matt Cardle year deja vu, with Louisa playing Rebecca Ferguson and 4th Impact as 1D. What about the handsome boy (Josh?)? Is he a danger? I can’t recall his singing so I can’t comment on his ability. Appealing and likeable iirc. Did he get positive comments?

      Meanwhile 4th Impact will should be a reliable substitute alpha act if Louisa implodes. They can perform to order every week.

      • stoney

        Hmmmm we have never had a mixed race male winner and josh doesn’t have any of the big demographic boxes to tick which he would need to win the competition. I would say at this point Louisa, Seann and 4th impact are the ones who could win. I don’t see the winner coming from outside of this 3

        • Jessica Hamby

          Assuming Simon is “managed” 😉

        • Jessica Hamby

          Don’t forget Jahmene!!! There’s a first for everything. Also I think people pick up fans as the show progresses. That isn’t necessarily from a predefined fan base.

          I certainly think Josh has the potential to give a happy to the X Factor audience. A lot depends on whether he is helped or hindered by tptb.

  • Alan

    Personally I think Seanns screentime is down to the fact he’s a big character and that he’ll get people talking about the show. It doesn’t necessarily mean he will get the producer backing needed to win. Of all the contestants I have seen his vote seems to be the easiest to dampen. Im sure they can dress him like an idiot (more than he already does himself), emphasise the fact he’s foreign, go a bit OTT with his sexuality etc etc. There’s loads of potential to throw a spanner in the works with bad staging and negative comments.

    Im not sure if he’d be viewed as a commercial proposition or not but he doesn’t seem like the clean cut puppets that Cowell has managed successfully in the past so would have big reservations.

    • Jessica Hamby

      I wouldn’t take that for granted. Imagine, for example, that there was an outbreak of homophobic bullying on twitter. That might be enough to see him over the line. Also don’t fall for the myth that Scowell seeks clean cut kids. He doesn’t give a crap. He’s had ex sex workers and porn stars and put them through and made a big thing of saying that the show is open to all. The X Factor audience (usually inspired by the tabloid press) is where the outrage lives.

      I’m sure there’s plenty to deramp him on if that’s required but I very much doubt it will be clothes, gender ambiguity or sexuality. That would be playing with an unexploded bomb.

      We should be a little careful though. JH is yet to come, the public is fickle, the live shows haven’t started yet and momentum is a funny thing. Like 4th Impact Seann has a background of performance so he should be solid and the least experienced (and therefore biggest risk) of the three of them is Louisa.

      • Alan

        I don’t recall him giving a record contract to ex sex workers and porn stars. Unless there was something in Joe McElldery’s past that Im not aware of. 🙂

        The Seann de-ramps would be subtle but effective Im sure. Wouldn’t need to set off any unexploded bombs. They might just dress him as a gold devil and get him to sing Take That. You think of your typical XFactor winner and to me it is bland and safe like Leona, Matt Cardle or Ben Whereishenow. The likes of Seann don’t really spring to mind. Not mine at least.

        • Jessica Hamby

          They didn’t win but he put through Chloe Khan and another porn star. Tbh if they dressed Seann the way they did Andrea I think he’d kill the vote that week. He was in Priscilla Queen of the Desert. I don’t think he’d have a problem with camp and if he was being exploited that could backfire massively. Obviously this is all conjecture but remembering the effect fat shaming Jesy had on Little Mix I would be surprised if camping up Seann hurt his vote much. You might as well call Pele a footballer.

          • Jessica Hamby

            Plus the UK is hardly scared of gay or gender ambiguous entertainers.

            Rylan, Sam Smith, Ian Mckellen, Graham Norton, Alan Carr, Eddie Izzard, Lily Savage/Paul O’Grady….

            My opinion, obviously, but if I was advising tptb and they wanted to deramp Seann that is one area I wouldn’t touch.

            Besides, I don’t think Scowell would want to do it. I’ve been very critical of him but I find it very hard to believe any of the panel would use gender or sexuality as a negative.

          • Jessica Hamby

            Mostly when they want to deramp someone they exploit there weak spots and tell the truth. JJs performance at JH last year WAS poor. Paul Akister did seem like a nervy loner so dressing him in black and making him sing in the dark then telling him he didn’t connect worked. I’m sure there are plenty of ways they can deramp Seann if they want to without touching on his “eccentricity”. If they’re smart they’ll go that way. If they try to use his sexuality against then I will pile on.

          • Jessica Hamby

            Larry Grayson built a career on gags about his friend Everard coming down the back passage. People are a lot more relaxed about flamboyant entertainers than you might think.

            And Larry was doing it 40+ years ago.

          • Martin

            I agree that there are different ways to kneecap Sean if they need to, but i don’t think the show would hesitate to go there if they had to. imagine him dressed in hot pants, crop top, near naked men as dancers with an in your face flamboyant VT singing it’s raining men. Its the stuff X Factor train wrecks are made of. I do imagine it as a lest resort though – the minute they start turning him into a novelty act with mash-ups and Rylan/Wagner style productions is when I’d be worried. He’s so far delivered quite classy, emotional performances, it would seem alienating for him to do anything else.

          • Alan

            So can you just clarify – do you agree with me or not? 🙂

            Whatever you say there have never been any sexualised acts in XFactor, at least not to the level you find in normal pop music. Didn’t J-Lo cause outrage with a sexy performance? Outrage no less for looking hot and shaking her arse.

            Will be interesting to see how Seann’s journey pans out for sure. He’s certainly not your traditional XFactor act so I don’t think there’s any guarantee that he will be a vote magnet. Certainly none of the people I know watch the show have indicated that they’re impressed so far. Most of them focus on the fact he’s an Aussie in a negative way – ie “whats he dong in it? He’s foreign.”

          • Jessica Hamby

            A Rylan / Wagner style production would kneecap him fo sho, but that’s a tactic that goes back to Storm Lee (the rocker with a great voice whose hair theybdyed pink and gave “We Built This City On Rock And Roll” to. They did similar with Blonde Electra last year. I hope I’m not on my politically correct high horse. I may have overreacted to a throwaway comment.

            Having said that the high camp performances they gave Wagner may well he right in his comfort zone and he can actually sing. Ajdrea made a pretty good job of the Take That last year. Giving something like that to a drag queen could well backfire.

          • Jessica Hamby

            Anyway, regardless o the fine details I’m sure they will believe that they can keep his vote under control if they want to. How they do it is secondary. Apolovies if I started an unnecessary scrap. Probably bored anx a little too much to drink (on a Monday! Eek!).

  • Alan

    Actually I think you’re probably right on the sexuality thing. It would be dodgy territory to portray someone’s sexuality in a negative way.

    And given that sexuality is something the show steers clear of pretty much anyway they would just avoid it altogether I think.

    Easier to use other tactics. He’s such a big character though that I think how he is portrayed is absolutely key to his success. More so than other more middle-of-the-road acts.

    • Martin

      I only ever remember three times this show addressed a contestants sexuality – Dannii’s remark to Danyl Johnson (which is widely considered off script?), Nicole playfully commenting on Lucy Spraggan’s dancers after “Gold Digger” and Jaymi from Union J coming out, which was used to show how supportive and close the band were. Anything else, they tend to pretend it’s not happening.

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