We really enjoyed Mason Noise making some noise about the X Factor editing process. Apparently he watches the show like a Sofabet reader: if you’re granted only 47 seconds of airtime in the audition show, you’re not likely to get the producer support needed to go far in the competition, so why not make a bit of an impression on your way out?
Tom Bleasby, who was humiliated by Cowell’s praise for Simon Lynch before Grimmy’s mind-change created the impression that he was scraping through in sixth of the six, also seems to have realised the odds were stacked against him. He pulled out rather than head to Manchester for Grimmy’s judges’ houses. And now The Sun is reporting that Mason may be coming back! More on that intriguing possibility below.
As we did with the girls last week, here’s our provisional assessment of the pre-judges’ houses lie of the land with the boys. A reminder that this ranking only indicates our estimate of producers’ priorities at this stage. These priorities can change very quickly, and we’re not suggesting it reflects each act’s potential popularity with the voting public.
Suggested Alpha: Seann Miley Moore
Current Odds: 6/1
From the start, producers’ plans of a starring role for Seann Miley Moore have been clear. The Australian featured in the opening weekend with an introductory VT like one of those Hollywood films that explain the whole plot in the first few minutes. The exposition was of an outsider looking for acceptance. His overturning of gender norms and powerful voice means he’s of great value to the show: a talented talking point.
Nothing we’ve seen since has changed our minds. He got the pimp slot for the closing arena audition montage; his boot camp role was smaller but still full of praise; and his six chair challenge performance was forceful. He’s the only act with a trademark look, settling into the kimono and baseball cap combination. We expect him to not only make the lives, but be given high billing there. Nonetheless, he hasn’t had the category to himself of late…
Suggested Beta: Ché Chesterman
Current Odds: 6/1
We’ve had Ché on our radar from his arena audition too, where we jokingly compared his appearance to a Crimestoppers suspect. The point we were making was that he had “makeover” written all over him, just as Sam Bailey did when she turned up for her room audition having made surprisingly little effort over her appearance for the cameras. Ben Haenow took the whole of the audition phase to get rid of his dodgy facial hair.
Ché’s soulful and wide-ranging vocal has been given a more extensive airing since. Boot camp was the first half of his breakthrough, with judges and presenters openly gushing; his six chair challenge pimp slot and four-judge standing ovation cemented it. He now challenges Seann for second favouritism in the Betfair outright market. We think Seann is probably just alpha at this stage – we haven’t yet been asked to invest emotionally in Ché’s story the way we have with Seann’s. But we wouldn’t be surprised to see Ché taking over, if Seann’s journey to acceptance goes awry.
Suggested Gamma: Simon Lynch
Current Odds: 28/1
As with the girls category, the most difficult decision was deciding on the gamma, who crucially gets a place on the live shows. There are arguments for any of Simon, Ben and Josh. Simon marginally gets the call over Ben, because he best fills the mould of cute unthreatening boy to encourage pre-teen and teen girls to get into the show.
Simon has had a higher billing than Ben from the arena auditions, where we first heard his attempt at a Cardle-esque falsetto. That didn’t go so well for him for the second phase of boot camp. But the praise was fulsome again at the six chair challenge. Here the panel started the process of belittling Tom Bleasby, sitting alone among the chairs, listening as the judges thanked Simon for raising the level far higher than seen so far. In truth, we find Simon’s vocal far from exciting, but it would be unusual not to see someone of his ilk in the lives.
Suggested Delta: Ben Clark
Current Odds: 25/1
Ben was given short shrift at the arena audition stage, and at boot camp we only really noted Rita’s enthusiasm and his physical likeness to Kye Sones. But if there was a surprise package at the six chair challenge, it was his nuanced performance of ‘All I Want’. Simon Cowell seemed to genuinely feel the same way.
If Simon Lynch is slightly more obvious in the unthreatening boy mould, Ben isn’t a million miles from it. He brings something a little more rocky too – which we often get from one of the male acts – think Jamie Archer or Ben Haenow. We reckon this Ben has put himself in with every chance, and if he can keep his momentum going, wouldn’t be a shock inclusion in the live shows.
Suggested Omega: Josh Daniel
Current Odds: 33/1
With the pimp slot in the second arena audition show, and a moving back story of bereavement that caused Cowell to tear up at his own, Josh Daniel’s X Factor hopes looked promising. But there was a sense that the many YouTube hits this clip received were mostly about Cowell’s reaction, rather than a groundswell for the Teessider.
Since then, Josh has felt more like wallpaper than a serious contender, and his odds have drifted accordingly. He openly expressed a feeling of intimidation about Che’s vocals at the six chair challenge in a way that made him look surplus to requirements. Yet the Xtra Factor did visit him at home last Sunday. And he’s a likeable enough person with a likeable enough voice. But we think that may still see him fall short of the live shows.
Possible Pantomime Villain: Mason Noise
Current Odds: 100/1
We haven’t had official confirmation yet whether or not producers will bring back someone else as a replacement for Tom. And it may well be that The Sun article linked to above indicates nothing more than producers having a bit of fun, and taking advantage of an opportunity to get the show some cheap headlines which will ultimately come to nothing. Our first instinct on hearing about Tom’s withdrawal was that the show would be wise not to put any replacement for Tom into the lives, for risk of creating a Maloney-type situation.
At first glance it would seem especially crazy to bring back Mason, who has shown himself aware of the machinations of the show and willing to expose them. Who knows what he might blurt out in a live interview with Caroline and Olly?
But on reflection, perhaps it’s not such a crazy idea after all. Ratings are down, the franchise is dying a death. Mason is a headline-worthy character. Why not? You can imagine the fun created each week as a thunder-faced Cowell claims “I don’t like you being on the show, Mason, but the public keep voting you in”. It’ll be Wagner all over again.
What do you think? Do keep the conversation going below with your thoughts on this category, and anything else.
X Factor images ©SYCO/THAMES TV/PA