Cowell managed first and second place with his Overs in 2014, hot on the heels of Sam Bailey’s win the previous year. He didn’t seem so enthusiastic about their prospects this time – cursing when initially told the public had decreed they were to be his responsibility again. He’d apologised long before taking the final six to a haunted French Chateau.
As with the girls, boys and groups, treatment so far has suggested to us a clear top two in producers’ minds. Guessing on the gamma who also makes the live shows feels like a three-horse race. However, we’re prepared for at least the occasional surprise at judges’ houses this weekend. Here’s how we read the Overs up till now.
Suggested Alpha: Anton Stephans
Current Odds: 16/1
We were highly encouraged by Anton’s arena audition, which showcased an extrovert personality we felt viewers would relate to. That was given particular prominence at the six chair challenge, when the Londoner was given a whole segment between ad breaks to himself. No one else was granted greater coverage during this phase.
Before he started singing, Anton was setup to give an extended “botox” joke at Cowell’s expense. He had also come out with a pre-song gag at boot camp, comparing Simon to God. These moments not only show us Anton’s good humour, but signal a joshing relationship between mentor and mentee that we think will become a feature of this category.
Every time Simon continues on a theme of Anton “pulling silly faces” and going “crazy”, he allows the session singer to come back with a heartfelt plea of how much it all means to him. Most contestants offer this spiel, but no one wears their heart on their sleeve more effectively than Anton – he’s tailor-made for an initially prominent role in the live shows.
Suggested Beta: Jennifer Phillips
Current Odds: 25/1
Jennifer looks like another clear choice for the lives based on her treatment so far. Her excellent, powerful vocals have been given a chance to shine at each stage of the process. Like Anton, she’s fun and full of personality. Cowell said of her on last Sunday’s Xtra Factor: “I think she could be my favourite. She is a diva and we love divas.”
On singing ability alone, she could go far in the competition, and thus take over the alpha role in this category. Our one concern, and the reason why we’ve placed her behind Anton at this stage, is the sense that producers haven’t given her a USP for the live shows that Anton’s more voluble character brings.
Suggested Gamma: Bupsi
Current Odds: 150/1
The race to be gamma over is very much open to debate. We think Bupsi may bely her outsider status and make it to the lives for the following reasons: Simon has never hidden his love for her; and the show is in need of a few fun acts to provide variety. Bupsi first showed her ability to go along with such a role when declaring “I’ll show you nasty” in the Saturday pimp slot for the second weekend of arena auditions.
Bupsi’s main selling point is the energy she brings to the stage. She upstaged Jennifer Phillips and Bekln with her moves during their group boot camp performance, and her backward “running man” delighted the audience at the six chair challenge. If there’s a sense of her sexy/fun dance moves wearing a little thin already, that’s no problem for a gamma over, only intended to be in the live shows for a week or two to provide the occasional laugh.
Suggested Delta: Ebru Ellis
Current Odds: 100/1
Ebru got just over a minute of screentime for her arena audition – more than Mason Noise’s notorious 47 seconds – but hardly a ringing endorsement. Ebru was also part of a quickfire set of clips for her individual bootcamp performance, where she suffered from nerves like those aired around her, in a segment intended to provide a contrast for the far more confident Mason Noise.
But just as her captioned surname had changed from Gursoy to Ellis, so her treatment was transformed in the six chair challenge. Having performed ‘If I Were A Boy’ in the pimp slot, Rita said she could listen to a “whole album” of hers, and Cheryl praised her “star quality”. Simon dampened the mood by explaining he didn’t like the first part of the song, but like his comment about Anton being “crazy”, this was setting up the suspense of whether she’d be offered a seat. It’s hard to tell if that was Ebru’s moment in the sun, or if producers have decided her face fits for the lives.
Suggested Omega: Kerrie-Anne Phillips
Current Odds: 80/1
Kerrie-Anne is the shortest price of the gamma candidates in the outright market. That doesn’t reflect her treatment up till now which has been pretty cursory: her arena audition got a similar amount of screentime as Ebru; she was barely sighted at boot camp; and whilst she had her Nan present and a short VT intro for the six chair challenge, it still didn’t compare to that afforded most of her rivals.
“She’s good … she’s classy,” Simon said at the end of her rendition of ‘Help’. One thing we will say in her favour is that she potentially looks the part. Which could be apt, because a Fleur East-style breakout at judges’ houses may be what it takes to make the live shows. That, or a decision by producers to give a place to someone afforded very little airtime as a way of making them easily disposed of in the first week or two.
Suggested Zeta: Max Stone
Current Odds: 100/1
We like Max’s voice. And he could potentially be the only White Guy With Guitar in the whole competition. But Simon made such a big play of Max’s apparent lack of personality at the six chair challenge, that we’d be surprised if the Svengali did a volte face and decided to take him to the live shows. The redemption of being brought back at audience insistence there will probably be his finest moment of the competition.
How are you reading the overs, and what else are you anticipating from the unprecedented live studio reveals of the final three in each category? Will Sunday’s show end with the girls, and all attention on Louisa Johnson – or with the boys, and Simon Cowell theatrically storming off set after Grimmy controversially puts Mason Noise through? Do let us know your theories before all is revealed.
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