X Factor 2015: Is Louisa A Worthy Favourite?

Going into the six-chair challenges, Louisa Johnson is hot favourite at 11/4. Is that a reasonable reflection of the Irons fan’s chances of hammering her X Factor rivals? Or will there be a surprise giant killing at Wembley (studios) this season?

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Louisa Johnson photo courtesy of Dave Smith

Some context here. For three of the last four years, consensus in the Sofabet community was that the show’s producers seem initially to have hoped to engineer a young teenage female soloist as their winner. For vaying reasons, it didn’t work out with Janet Devlin (2011), Ella Henderson (2012) or Tamera Foster (2013).

Last year they eased off the girls in a failed attempt to position Stereo Kicks, in anticipation of One Direction’s hiatus. But this year we seem to be back to having a young teenage female soloist as Plan A. What can X Factor history, and Louisa’s portrayal so far, tell us about producers’ – and Louisa’s – chances of justifying her position at the top of the market?

Let’s start by briefly running through why punters have made Louisa favourite. Producers introduced her in the first audition show, which traditionally they pack with acts they expect to have a good run into the lives. She got the coveted pimp slot in that show – last to perform, lingering longest in the memory. She also got the first bootcamp episode pimp slot, along with 4th Power, and was in the last segment of the second bootcamp episode.

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The girls category seems to be where it’s at this year: there is strength in depth, it’s the category the judges were most shown as wanting to mentor, and they’re going to Los Angeles for judges’ houses while the others stay in Europe (in the boys’ case, Manchester). But the five girls rumoured to make it to judges’ houses with Louisa have all either had less screentime or had some doubt expressed about them already: her closest category rival in the betting, Kiera, drifted sharply after Cowell remarked “I don’t like her voice” in the second bootcamp episode. Louisa has had plenty of screentime, and nothing but positivity.

Furthermore, as has been discussed recently in the Sofabet comments, none of her leading rivals in other categories fit the typical profile of a winner. The shortest-odds boy is a drag queen; the shortest-odds group are foreigners; the shortest-odds over is a mature black gospel singer. The act who most closely fits the typical profile of a winner, Simon Lynch, producers poured cold water on through the bootcamp edits.

That’s enough to explain Louisa’s position as betting favourite. But there are other intriguing hints of big plans ahead. Louisa’s Twitter handle is the impressively memorable @louisa. Did she just happen to be the first Louisa to sign up to Twitter, or has that handle been recently acquired? A little Twitter digging reveals that her boyfriend, @ellisstevens7, was tweeting her at the now-defunct @louisajohnson0 until a few months ago; she also appears to have used @louisavocal.

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A quick Google suggests it would be impossible to find out exactly how Louisa acquired @louisa, but there is apparently an informal market for memorable handles, with five-figure sums being bandied about for the most coveted. Louisa is also @louisa on Instagram. It’s hard to avoid the conclusion that somebody has been taking pains to streamline her social media presence in anticipation of a high-profile post-show career trajectory.

So what might Louisa – and producers – learn from the last three failures to get a young teen female soloist over the winning line?

There’s arguably least to learn from 2011’s Janet Devlin, who appears to have been a straightforward casting error on the show’s part: somewhere around three weeks into the live shows, producers evidently decided their erstwhile favourite was more difficult to work with than they’d anticipated and trained their guns on her, switching their support instead to 80/1 outsiders Little Mix and pimping them to a famous victory.

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That said, Janet’s demise does contain one cautionary note for Louisa: if a career is what you want from the X Factor experience, you’d be well-advised to do whatever producers suggest. All the evidence so far indicates that they’ll be trying to help you. Lesson one for doing well in X Factor? Play ball.

Lesson two involves dealing with nerves. Nerves ended up being the final downfall for Tamera Foster in 2012 and last year’s alpha girl Lola Saunders. For both it was a problem that first manifested itself at the pre-lives stage. Tamera forgot her lines at her arena audition, and went on to do the same in weeks 6 and 7; Lola went to pieces in week 3. Louisa will have to continue giving secure and confident performances beyond her tender years, as she has up to this point.

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Tamera had some PR issues too, among them newspaper stories alleging shoplifting. Assuming there are no such hurdles for Louisa, then 2012’s Ella Henderson represents her closest analogy. Like Louisa, Ella was introduced in the opening audition show pimp slot. Despite being consistently pimped, she never set the public vote alight, bobbing around between 3rd and 6th before being eliminated in a surprise singoff with James Arthur in week 7. As with Tamera, here was a Plan A who never got close to the top two in the phone vote.

Looking back at her performances, nerves played a role in Ella’s failure too. Like Tamera, they caused a lack of consistency. Check out the bum notes in the final 30 seconds of her week 1 effort from the pimp slot, and her rendition of ‘Firework’ in week 5. In both cases, the judges’ gushing praise didn’t ring true.

Ella’s other main problem was one that’s common to most 16-17 year olds – they just don’t have enough life experience yet to have developed relatable, well-rounded personalities. The voting public can more easily latch on to the likes of nice-guy van driver Ben Haenow, jam tart-baking prison warden Sam Bailey or bedsit-dwelling tortured soul James Arthur. It’s simply a fact of life that most 16-17 year olds haven’t yet accumulated a great deal more to talk about than living with their folks, going to school and doing teenagery stuff.

That’s not such a problem for boys, who have a more natural appeal to the show’s mainly-female voting demographic – it’s no coincidence that seven of the eleven winners have been male soloists. But the show’s attempts to add definition to their younger female contestants have sometimes appeared a little bit desperate: Ella’s inspirational grandfather, Amelia Lily’s “supportive dad”, Lauren Platt’s dancing brother.

Based on Louisa’s portrayal so far, this might also be a problem for her. She comes across as perfectly nice, it’s just that she’s been a little less individually defined so far than, say, Labour club barmaid Kiera, once-rejected youth worker Monica, market trader Chloe, and so on. Pretty much all we’ve learned about her as a person is that she loves her mum and didn’t enjoy school.

Without knowing more about Louisa’s life, it’s hard to know how much scope producers will have to make her live show VTs memorable. Given that she’s a West Ham fan, maybe the show can persuade Karren Brady to invite her to a midweek kick-off at Upton Park to lead the crowd in a rendition of ‘I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles’?

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Otherwise, we’re relying on her vocal ability and how she comes across during the process. Here, X Factor history does suggest some further counsel for Louisa. The most successful girls have tended to come across as either endearingly ditsy (Alexandra Burke, Stacey Solomon) or demure (Leona Lewis, Rebecca Ferguson) – and Louisa doesn’t seem particularly ditsy, so it’ll have to be demure. In particular, she needs to remember what Tulisa famously said about Little Mix: “they won’t steal your boyfriend”. She needs to stay humble, show us she’s grateful to be there and enjoying the experience, and avoid any hint of entitlement.

Will it be enough? Possibly. The truncated schedule – seven live shows, not ten – should help producers to sustain momentum. Ultimately, her chances of success may come down to how willing producers are to go nuclear on her rivals – something they did for Little Mix in 2011, whereas in the last couple of years they’ve seemed more willing to acquiesce in a feelgood winner who probably wasn’t their first choice. Ella is the most recent act to prove that you don’t have to win to have hits. But with the franchise starting to creak, it’s arguably becoming more urgent for them to have another commercially successful winner.

In conclusion, we reckon it’s pretty clear that Louisa is Plan A at this stage – but there’s many a slip twixt cup and lip, given the recent record of previous acts who were Plan A at this stage. Her odds of 3.75 may shorten even further on Sunday night if, as expected, she does well in the six chair challenge. Are you a Louisa backer or layer at current prices? As ever, do let us know below.

X Factor images ©SYCO/THAMES TV/PA

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62 comments to X Factor 2015: Is Louisa A Worthy Favourite?

  • stoney

    Didnt realise she was a hammerette. Im backing her even more now! Should have gone in way harder than i did at 11/2 but still better than nothing.

  • annie

    Louisa is demure a bit too much. She might even be so demure that she will turn out to be boring and bland. Rebecca was quite bland and not an in your face style but she had style both in her look and music.
    When I hear someone sing …And I am telling you I just cant care anymore, whoever brilliant it is sung and performed, its the most overused talent show ever and suggests absolutely zero creative energy and hardly any popstar quality. I am curious just how they will make louisa relevant.

    In the meantime I hear Keira singing I will always love you, which is as bad as ..and I am telling you. why are they doing this to these girls? Giving them these classic cliche songs…? but she at least has some personality shinning through.

    • Curtis

      Haha, I agree with you about “And I am telling you”. I find it a really annoying song to listen to, and yeah, shows no relevancy at all. At the same time at this stage of the competition they just need to make sure that their big-hitters i.e. Louisa and Kiera, clearly rise to the top as having a bit more vocal talent than the rest, and giving them these classic belting songs does it. Perhaps in the live shows they’ll be able to come up with some more original song choices that prove these girls belong in the modern music industry.

    • Jessica Hamby

      Funny. I felt very different. I agree about song choice but I thought Louisa gave her best performance of the competition so far. She wore a dress for the first time and her hair and make up were done. She looked really pretty.

      What struck me most about her was that she was loving it up there. While the others had worked themselves up into various states of emotional overload (with or without the help of the judges) she seemed to see it as a chance to do something she loves, performing.

      That’s also a noticeable contrast with Seann and Anton, for example, who wibble and fret themselves into minor meltdowns. Louisa won’t be forgetting her words.

      Clearly she has strong tptb support. They’re pacing her rather than dumping her on us all at once like a fully formed popstar. That, I think, is a good thing.

      Most of all she is genuinely talented. There’s a long way to go in the competition but I don’t think she’s shown everything she’s got yet. For me she’s the real deal and head and shoulders above the other girls and I think she’s going to get better as the live shows progress.

      • Jessica Hamby

        Lauren has got the talent to be as good as Louisa but she suffers from nerves, she also doesn’t look like a pop star (compare her hair to Louisa’s tonight) and the judges are undermining her.

      • annie

        Oh I am not saying she didnt do a brilliant job. She was all what you said. sang brilliantly, looked good. Its just that I cant help rolling my eyes to such a boring, cliche songchoice, its like she has nothing to say regardless what a great belter she is. maybe she will blossom in the live shows but at the moment she is a good singer but nothing to really unique to her, way to replaceable.

  • annie

    and I think Rita is such a bad actress and so transparent, it is borderline cringe, lets hope she ll continue to be in the live shows and translate productions intentions to us as good old reliable used to do,

  • Jessica Hamby

    That twitter handle is a great spot and makes clear the lengths tptb will go to for her. They clearly believe in her and will do whatever they can to help her.

    Imo her only competition from the girls is Lauren. Lauren is very likeable but unreliable. Deramping is already in progress. She may well crumble under pressure anyway.

    I think the boys and overs can all be deramped too. Imo Fourth Impact will provide her most serious competition. Can their nationality be used to deramp them? I like them a lot but they can.probably be subtly nobbled enough (in VTs if nothing else).

    Worthy favourite? Definitely. There are potential pitfalls. Tptb have to make sure they don’t inadvertently create a Haenow, she better not have any skeletons in the cupboard or become arrogant (women are generally judged more harshly than men) but yes she can definitely go on to win it. Imo laying her would be unwise.

  • stoney

    I’m pretty sure simon lynch will be ditched before the lives. He would be the real danger to louisa winning. Seann would be easy to bypass

    • Jessica Hamby

      I got a sense of some of the old, pre-Barlow, real ruthlessness coming out. Simon, particularly, was happy to press buttons to get an emotional response whenever it suited him. In fact they were all at it. Storm Lee / Blonde Electra style careermageddon, maybe a Maloney Special if we’re lucky, are on the agenda.

    • I think it could be wise to ditch Simon before the lives, in case he catches on too much. However they are really lacking in “Hot guys” this year. I can’t even remember what The First Kings look like, for example.

      • Jessica Hamby

        With The First Kings they’ve not had a lot of airtime apart from performances, few close ups of individuals in performances and they don’t have a consistent / coherent look or a signature style (contrast with Alien and Fourth Impact (and, in fact, Menn On Point)).

    • Fudd

      I think Josh is a bigger risk to their plans then Simon as he has more of a ‘traditional’ vocal. I can see Simon’s upper register putting some people off plus Josh appears more confident than Simon.

      Then again, they may see Josh as a viable, commercial Plan B if Louisa doesn’t fly for whatever reason. So I can see them flipping on whether to put him through.

      • Jessica Hamby

        I think Fourth Power are Plan B. I think this is the first year they are going in with a proper Plan B.

        Imo the only people who can win are Louisa, Fourth Power or one of the boys.

        • David Cook

          I honestly don’t think 4th Power / Impact can actually win – I think a place in the final is probably the best they can hope for. I’m really starting to wonder if they think they can get Louisa, 4th Impact and Seann to the final. To do it they would probably need to go all out to sabotage the other male acts. On the other hand would they risk having a final with Louisa and Simon or Josh?

          • Jessica Hamby

            I think they’ve thought a lot more about the casting this year. I doubt Louisa has any shoplifting or bullying secrets to come out and I suspect they’ve done a bit more, for want of a better phrase, Due Diligence.

            Can Seann or FI get to the final? Hard to tell. Simon and Josh seem inoffensive and are male and Che can definitely sing but may struggle on likeability (it’s a popularity contest as well as a singing contest). I honestly didn’t think Ben would do much at all last year and he ended up winning so I’m no judge. The boys or the overs could definitely catch the voters’ imagination.

            One thing I think is different is that FI, Louisa and Seann can all sing and sing well. Sam Bailey won in a year when the talent was truly awful. Last year was better but Lola crumbled, Lauren was limited, Andrea was nobbled (as was Paul), SK was if not flawed as a concept then badly executed.

            This year Sean and FI are the finished article. I think that makes a big difference. However I was wrong about Ben and I’m definitely taking that into account this year.

            I think a lot depends on how people perform when it goes live. Ben was always in tune and put out solid performances. Will Josh or Simon or Che (or whoever is chosen) be as competent? A lot depends on that. If someone is then he’ll definitely be in with a big chance.

            It seems unfair that Leon Jackson and Joe McElderry won while both being fairly dull and safe while those same qualities may do for Louisa, but that’s the reality so if they want to get her over the line they’ll have to deal with that.

  • Donald

    Interesting piece. Louisa was well flagged to me pre shows and I posted her initials even before shows.

    This where I currently at, not a penny on Louisa. No. 1. I don’t really rate her that high. No. 2. Previous results. No.3. They had a potential winner last year in Lauren that the public liked early doors..can’t see the Lauren voters going for Louisa.

    7 live shows, no time for error like they did with 8 in a group last year.

    My initial hunch is they may be backing the wrong one again this year.

    Hold station time.

  • Jessica Hamby

    There were signs of a definite lack of self awareness on xtra factor when it was claimed Louisa was “good at accents”. She had the same confidence as when she sings but both scouse and aussie were epic fails and it was just a bit embarrassing. She has the potential to alienate voters.

    If she had Lauren’s likeability but her own poise in performance she’d be really hard to beat, but Lauren is 25, not 17.

  • David Cook

    Overall I think Louisa will have impressed the audience tonight. When she sang she just seemed to be in a totally different class to the acts who were already sitting in the seats – if that was what they were aiming for then to me it worked. I agree that the song choice was a bit cliched and that her performances do lack a bit of personality – but this was her best performance to date.
    I thought Lauren got close – a really good vocal performance, and more individuality than Louisa. Of the six who got through I would have place her second, but I somehow doubt they’ll put her through with Louisa.

  • Jessica Hamby

    I wouldn’t lay her. Clearly she’s familiar with the song but if tptb are half as clever as we assume they are then they’re not going to give her anything she can’t handle. They must have learned the folly of that by now. She looks like the real deal to me.

    http://youtu.be/c_oXqedq73U

    • Jessica Hamby

      She needs to show a bit more nuance so as not to be seen as a karaoke style belter. So far her vocal has lacked sweetness and subtlety but that can be learned, and quickly if she has a brain. As a performer she looks ready go me.

    • Jessica Hamby

      I think she needs is variation, but she can learn it. Rikki Lee Jones (one of my favourite singers) shows a lot of that shizzle here. She aint just singing. The way she changes it up is what makes this song a masterpiece.

      http://youtu.be/nG0zxxzvyYE

  • Henry VIII

    Louisa seems a bland shouter to me with no personality but they must have learned lessons from the other girls mentioned above. Worth mentioning that some of those other girls went much lower in price in the first couple of weeks before they disintegrated.

  • Jessica Hamby

    This is her youtube channel. It has 10 videos on it.

    https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCNfLhblIro-35864S4Obp0Q

    Can she win?

    Imo yes BUT

    she lacks subtlety and craft with her voice and her personality is suspect for a popularity contest winner. Someone else said they expect her to win if the final is her, FI and Seann. I’m not so sure. The likeability is strong in FI and Seann’s vulnerability could gain him support too.

    If she comes across as arrogant or entitled or a stage school brat then I think she’ll lose votes and that is a real possibility.

    I want to see more of the others before making a firm prediction.

    A couple of questions. How would y’all compare her with Alexandra and Leona? Was anyone nuked to help either of them?

  • Martin

    I can’t remember as far back as Alexandra and Leona – it would be hard to tell with Leona, as far as I’m aware we have no voting statistics for her series? I think the general consensus with Alexandra is that she worked her way up slowly – between her and JLS there didn’t seem to be a preference until she got landed with Beyonce in the final. I may be wrong though, I was but a teenager at the time so this is all through watching it back on youtube.

    My main concern with Louisa is her lack of back story. This article nails it all to be honest – she is good, and she stole the show last night but unless she is sitting on one hell of a sob story (like Jahmene was), or can genuinely blow everybody away week after week (seems capable at the moment) I’d bet with caution.

    I also agree with her main competition being Simon Lynch. It’d be risky putting him through, but if they can nobble Andrea they way they did last year, they could easily do it to Simon.

  • The maestro

    Got to be a lay at this point , I see no personality at all she’s 17 but acts and looks around 21 to confident for me and also I don’t see a journey for her also favs at this point have a awfull record in winning the show I think shayne ward the only winner starting fav from the start I’m with Kiera weathers at this point

  • Stu

    If I remember correctly, Leona was the clear stand-out in a very weak year. If you took her out of the final 12, that year would’ve been a disaster talent-wise. But maybe that was Simon’s plan all along with her. At that point, it was nearly impossible for a female contestant to win over the audience on UK talent shows – bear in mind Leona won with only 60% of the vote against RAY QUINN. I think placing a lot of weak contestants in the live shows with Leona was to ensure she won. Ben was her biggest competition and he was kicked out just before the final. Hmmm…

    Alexandra’s year I remember vividly since that was when the talent on XF became really good. She was arguably Plan A going into the live shows – she was bookies favourite, she had the JH pimp slot, she had a rejection back story… But all the attention was on Diana from week 1 until week 8. Alexandra was often on early in the performance show – 4th in week 1, 1st in week 2, 2nd in week 6, 1st in week 7 while Diana never opened the show. It was ‘Listen’ in week 8 that turned it around for Alex and while Diana was left to sink, Alex got given Beyonce in the final while JLS and Eoghan were stuck with Boyzone and Westlife!!

    • Martin

      I think you’d have a few people contesting that Alexandra was plan A from the word go – as I said, my memory is hazy but I think general opinion is that Diana was the most favoured that year. Obviously she had a very messy journey on the live shows, and where she started strong and went downhill, Alexandra managed to build momentum. I can’t remember her treatment exactly – I know she had a strong sob story about coming back better, I think Simon was very critical of her in the early weeks, was she accused of over singing and gave her a narrative of trying to impress him? Somehow, a copycat performance of “Candyman” managed to do that, and then he told her to a performance where she had to hold back (and not oversing). Personally, I don’t think Alexandra was plan A all the way through, but was “allowed” to win when their other favourites didn’t stand up.

      • Stu

        Alexandra was criticised by Simon for doing Whitney in week 1 and Mariah (her cover of The Jackson 5’s ‘I’ll Be There’ during MJ week) in week 2 so basically that she was unoriginal – especially compared to the other girls Diana and Laura. She had a more prominent audition than Diana, as well as more airtime for her bootcamp and JH performances. Diana actually received a negative comment from Simon during her audition. I think Alexandra was one of the contestants the producers had their eyes on from the the audition stages but Diana’s uniqueness soon prevailed for a while. In my opinion, Alexandra was a rare case of being the Plan A before the lives before being replaced by something more “exciting” and “new” and then finally winning over the producers again once their Plan B (Diana) crashed and burned after her “unfair” bye in week 5. A girl winning was always going to be a priority (whether it was Alexandra or Diana) so Cheryl could cement her status as a credible mentor – just like Dannii winning with a boy a year beforehand.

  • The maestro

    Leona was 7-1 to win just before the first live show I was on her all the way through the competition in fact she never went fav until week 6 Ben was fav at 1 point he was Evs the biggest win I’ve ever had on any bet what a price 7-1

    • Stu

      That’s interesting. I never knew what the odds were like back in Leona’s year since I was a bit too young to notice. Can you remember the odds during the final?

  • Martin

    The one thing that is puzzling me this year is the “contestant styling” – after it was pointed out on here, it’s clear to see that contestants may be styled during the audition process (Lola Saunders in her pleated skirt, tshirt and trainers through most of her early auditions, Lauren Platt in basically the same outfit all the way through the competition) – does this work? The main thing that has stuck out to me is how most of the girls last night have been dressed down (Lauren seemed to be wearing jogging bottoms) wheras Louisa seems to be “blossoming” – as Jess has pointed out, this is the first time we’ve seen her in a dress and makeup wheras Keira, who we’ve seen glammed up at most other stages, comes out in ripped jeans and a baggy shirt. Am I disappearing down the rabbit hole with this, or is this actually what happens?!

    I can’t help but notice Jennifer Phillips basically wearing the same outfit with different colour vest tops at each stage, as well as Seann Miley Moore at bootcamp round 2 wearing his exact outfit from auditions, but in white.

    • Jessica Hamby

      With the exceptions of Louisa and Havva they looked awful – Maria’s and Lauren’s hair in particular. Lauren’s looked like she was copying Luke Friend and hadn’t washed it for a week. The clothers were terrible, all grunge and slobbing around the house at the weekend EXCEPT Louisa.

      She was fresh faced with beautiful straightened, conditioned, highlighted hair and a sexy, casual short dress. Havva is naturally very pretty and was wearing a crop top but Louisa definitely stood out in the fashion parade.

      I don’t know how tptb contrived to make that happen but we all saw it.

      I don’t know a lot about styling. I know it should make you recogniseable, it should somehow represent you and it should be consistent. Katy Perry or Miley or Lady Gaga all have distinct, recogniseable looks even if you can’t define what they are.

      FI have are sort of girl next-door casual at the moment. It works for them but it’s a bit dull. They can get away with it at the audition stage but I would expect them to have costumes, distinct but based around a connecting theme and colour for the live shows. They don’t need an off stage style but they need to look sweet and a bit sexy. On stage they need to look like a girl band so coherence and consistency (without uniformity) is the goal.

      Seann looked great at his first audition but that look is so distinctive and deliberate that it is amazing to me that he chose to wear it again. If that is his personal, signature style he must surely have a wardrobe to choose from and it would be a matter of personal pride for him to dress well and not wear the same outfit twice. TV is the perfect place to peacock. He must have been asked to wear it again.

      It certainly gives him a signature style but wearing the same outfit makes it look a bit tired and unimaginitive imo, a bit like a guitarist who can only play Stairway To Heaven. If he wears it again at 6 chair and (change your damn clothes man) at JH then 1 they’re nobbling him and 2 what seemed a charming eccentricity will become tedious, contrived artifice.

      • Martin

        I’d say the repetition of a certain style of dress was to make sure the act stays in peoples minds (like Lola, if they can’t remember her name she could always be “the girl in the granny skirt and manky trainers” in the early stages) but I don’t really think Seann needs that sort of anchoring. It’s very odd.

        I do agree that popstars (particularly female?) need a “look”. Katy Perry is very animated, Taylor Swift is cutesy – very aspirational for her young fanbase, even Adele has a distinguished classy all-black theme even from her early days through her weight loss. I’m not sure whether having that from day one is a benefit at this stage – it never did Rebecca Ferguson any harm, but at this stage it doesn’t seem like Louisa has an “image” they can play up to so they just made sure everybody else looked like they were popping to the shops whilst Louisa looked flawless.

  • The maestro

    The odds in the final were around 1-2 Leona 7-4 Ray Quinn it stayed that way until Leona sang the winners song and absolutely blew Ray away she went 5s on

  • Alan

    Having the personality of a dead slug never did Leona Lewis any harm. I think TPTB will play the same hand with Louisa, ie that she’s an outstanding singer and that winning the competition is everything she deserves. Can they get a young white female over the line though? Its never been done before.

    I do agree with the comment about the girls styling in last nights show. Did someone tell them to look like they had been dragged through a hedge backwards? It was taking the rags to riches theme a bit too literally I think. Some of them look about as far removed from recording artists as it’s possible to get. I know they get a bit of a make over when they get to lives (look at James Arthur’s transformation from Stig Of The Dump) but jesus wept the stylists will have their work cut out with some of that lot.

    • Panos

      Don’t forget that some of them woke up at 4am to end up performing at 11pm. Also, maybe some of them had to work overtime in the dark room!!!

      • Jessica Hamby

        Fair point. It could have been coincidence or it could have been a situation that arose that someone took advantage of (seeing Louisa looked crap and sending her to hair and make up before she went on). Regardless, the outcome was that she looked better than the others.

  • stoney

    Daniel have you actually done that double bet?

  • The maestro

    Louisa is to cocky and to confident to win the xfactor where does her fan base come from????? Yes Leona had no personality but she came across as been humble like a lot off other X factor winnings like Ben Alexandra joe shayne Leon all had 1 thing in common you have to have the like ability factor to win the show I just don’t see it with her 5-2 is a awfull price

  • Joe

    Louisa is a confident performer but I felt her song at six chair challenge was a bit too shouty in places. I agree with many that she is certainly earmarked for the latter stages of the competition. But as we have seen before tptb don’t often get their female plan a over the line.

    Where is her back story? What emotional hook is there for the viewer to get attached to? How does Louisa go on a journey from here? A great confident singer from the start.

    Solo boys have done well because they are good looking, middle of the road and someone your mum quite likes. Girls vote in droves. History says Louisa won’t win going in as favourite in the betting. (Janet, Ella, Tamara, etc). But maybe this year will be different, but competition is very strong and with 7 weeks, two double eliminations likely tptb need to pull out all the stops to nobble the competition. The best singers don’t always win as it is a popularity contest more than anything.

    It’s a tough call but I’m just not sure the public will play ball.

  • The maestro

    Good call joe in fact When have the public ever played ball how many plan A have the producers actually get over the line Leona and shayne last year was a prime example Ben absolutely walked it and wasn’t even plan C

  • annie

    Leona may have had the personality of a dead slug (brilliant way to put it! ) but besides her brilliant voice (and basically no competition) she also had/has an exotic look, beauty that does make her stand out from the crowd. she sure isnt girl next door looking…

  • Jessica Hamby

    I think that winning as favourite from beginning to end is a difficult task. It would probably have been better to put someone else in the early pimp slots and focus on them, then allow Louisa to come through as the live shows progress. To be the focus from August to December is a hell of a burden, and when there’s so little to say about her anyway it’s a dreadful position to be in. She should be going through under the radar.

    • Alan

      You and others dismissed my suggestion that maybe tptb had tried such a tactic last year with Fleur. I think it would definately be worth a try.

      That said having paid a little more attention from the start this year i tend to think you were right. Tptb just dont really do “subtle” do they?

      • Jessica Hamby

        I hope I wasn’t too rude in my dismissal. If I was I apologise. I think I probably score as highly on the personality disorder spectrum as Scowell and tptb.

        Having got that out of the way…

        Imo they are much less analytical than we are and are a lot less precise than we give them credit for. VTs and comments appear to be planned and even scripted with psych theory in mind but a lot of things are made up on the fly or come from vague intentions rather than deliberate or precise planning.

        Information from former contestants implies very strongly that there is manipulation to favour some contestants and disadvantage others.

        I think confirmation bias plays a strong role in some of our analyses but we’re mostly accurate enough to end a series with a profit. If that happens regularly then statistically we’re on the right track.

  • Kermit_The_Frog

    I think that the visibility of any female on The X-Factor is a negative for their chances of winning the show. It seems much more prolific that a female receives a backlash from viewers than a male – in short, lots of airtime and a ‘personality’ equals ‘cocky’, ‘arrogant’, ‘bitch’ while lots of airtime and innocuous equals ‘boring’, ‘dull’, ‘unworthy’.

    The ‘Fleur project’ last year was missing one vital ingredient – a killer voice. If she’d been able to deliver a cliched ballad like Alexandra or Leona? She just might have overtaken Ben and have won.

    For Louisa to succeed, I think it will be important to remove male competition early on and for her not to be seen as ‘favoured’ – yet with double eliminations, they can’t play a long game like with Fleur. A big ask, especially when TPTB don’t have form for getting their desired result. This series might not be decided until late in the game…

  • R

    I don’t think it’s too difficult to get a teen female to win the show.

    Of the three contestants mentioned in the article, I would say only Janet started out as Plan A.

    If Ella had been Plan A, surely they would have given a greater insight into her personality…unless she really was devoid of one.
    Remembering Ella’s woeful performance of You’re The One That I Want, I can only believe it was slowed down to make sure she finished bottom 2.
    At that point they could easily switched Ella & James’ roles, with him going & her receiving the massive pimping with the “vote to stop Maloney” subtext.
    The only alternative I can think of is that Chris Maloney was doing so well that they realised Ella would struggle to overhaul him, so backed James mid-way into the lives.

    Tamera was never Plan A in a year when Sam Bailey was pimped every step of the way. The show has strong links with the press & could have suppressed the stories as they did with Sam’s links to Cowell & Clifford until after her win.

    If anything, Janet shows the potential for a teen winning the show. She swept up 24% of the vote at the start without anyone else coming close and she continued to top the votes for several more weeks despite the hate from the show.
    If she had played ball with tptb, she would most likely have had a comfortable victory.

    • Jessica Hamby

      Max Clifforx was first arrested as part of Operation Yewtree in December 2012 and was charged in April 2013. His trial date (March 2014) was set in June 2013. I doubt he was available.

    • Martin

      I think it is important to remember there have been flaws with these teenage females who have supposedly been plan A. Diana Vickers missed a week and then fell apart in subsequent weeks. Janet Devil was dragged down (for reasons we can guess but will probably never be confirmed) – as R quite rightly says, if she was allowed to play to her strengths post week 3 she may have run away with it. Ella Henderson, along with tuning issues, was given a shocking set of songs during the live shows. She blew people away with her original song and then “Believe” by Cher – why not reprise one of them? Instead she was John Lewis’d at every opportunity (her rendition of “Bring Me To Life was particularly shocking) and it does match the suggestion that she was purposely b2ed a) for ratings and b) for the Anti-Maloney vote. If they truly wanted her to win, they’d have done her more justice in the live shows.

      • annie

        re. janet:
        I remember reading an interview with her, it was already a while after X factor, and she sort of said it out that they were trying to make her do things and sing things and that she wasn’t willing to play along because she was young and fierce naive and thought that she could be different and singlehandedly change things and do the whole XF thing her way. (these aren’t her words but this is what came across)

        so she was nuked for being stubborn and not being dilligent… c’est la vie.

        • Martin

          I’ve heard various stories and interviews, I’m not sure where they come from. My favourite being one week she was singing a song she didn’t really know, and rather than let her stay and rehearse they let her go home for a few days and her ipod mysteriously disappeared so she couldn’t learn it.

          You’d think they’d understand that, if they are chasing these “credible” acts like Janet, James Arthur, even Matt Cardle to an extent, they are going to want a level of input rather than being the puppets that SYCO are used to.

  • Chatterbox5200

    Interesting video on TellyMix, although no real surprises to anyone on here, that knows the inner workings of the show.

    http://www.tellymix.co.uk/videos/234811-life-as-an-x-factor-contestant-watch-bbc-short-film-featuring-former-acts.html

  • eurovicious

    Meanwhle, this year’s X Factor Kazakhstan languishes in the audition stages:

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