We still don’t have official confirmation of whether it’s a single or double elimination this week. In week 1, we only found out for sure at the start of the Sunday results show. That was a contravention of the programme’s own rules, as Sofabet commenter EM pointed out at the time. Those rules state: “The elimination format, and any specific terms relating to that week’s elimination, will be announced in the applicable on-air interaction information before voting opens.”
Therefore, I’m expecting the situation to be made clear at the start of tonight’s show, as it has been for the past two weeks. We’ve been told that the acts will each perform two songs next week, and that usually happens when there are five acts left, but not always – 2011 was an exception. Similar programme length this week and next would make a double elimination this weekend seem more likely. Either way, the current uncertainty adds another layer of intrigue to a hotly-anticipated show. With the deadwood and unwanted gone, the remaining seven all have a decent reason to be there.
Let’s start with outright favourite and Plan A, Louisa. Our midweek review continued to question the sagacity of some aspects of her portrayal, but we don’t doubt that she remains the golden girl. We’re encouraged by her song choice this week, the Sofia Karlberg reworking of James Bay’s ‘Let It Go’, which feels more current, original and appropriate than her previous numbers. She may be allowed her big moment this week, with perhaps a VT reference to her ex-boyfriend in the Love and Heartbreak theme.
A bigger question mark surrounds tonight’s treatment of Lauren Murray, after her moment last week. Her back story (which has come to light in the newspapers this week), big personality and iTunes success all make it possible that producers will decide to give her a fair crack at the prize. But we still have nagging doubts based on the last-minute song change from ‘License To Kill’ last week.
Whilst we’re neutral on Mariah Carey’s ‘We Belong Together’ as a classic RnB song choice, here’s what we are looking out for in terms of signals: there’s plenty of genuine heartbreak in Lauren’s background – a sympathetic, detailed portrayal of that would be a green light; a return to the low-rent staging of week 1 would be an amber light; and if producers want to switch to red, they could use this week’s headlines to suggest in Lauren’s VT that her exit from the contestants’ shared house somehow suggests she doesn’t want to be in the competition.
The indication is that viewers will be encouraged to make an emotional connection with Che Chesterman tonight, based on this story of his grandfather’s death, building upon our recent introduction to his father. We were underwhelmed by his performance in the pimp slot last week, and social media stats suggested we weren’t the only ones. Nonetheless, producers have given him every help so far in the live shows, including namechecking him as a finalist at the end of last week’s VT.
At the same time, he has been sent down a Jahmene Douglas route of song choices from the start, and the Marvin Gaye reworking of The Beatles’ ‘Yesterday’ suggests there’s no change of direction – Jahmene’s “winner’s single” was ‘Let It Be’.
Mason Noise is the other boy standing, and fulfils a role as the only heart-throb remaining. He jumped clear of the danger zone last week, being the first this series to successfully achieve a sympathy bounce from singoff survival. More often than not, this only lasts a week, but there was a sense in his energetic performance of ‘Men In Black’ that they’ve found Mason’s best lane, and the recent Nick Jonas hit ‘Jealous’ promises to play to his strengths. He looked too short as a hot favourite for next elimination earlier in the week, and has drifted in price since.
His main challenger in that elimination market is Anton Stephans, who hopes to get a sympathy bounce this week after his singoff appearance last Sunday. He provides mentor Simon Cowell with his last hope of an act in the final, which he’s managed every time up till now. This week’s Xtra Factor skit reminded us that Anton also brings self-awareness, a big personality and comedy to the show. However, in a week with a few predictable song choices, his number ‘One Sweet Day’ feels like the most uninspiring of the lot.
That leaves us with the two groups. Like Che and Louisa, there has been nothing but positivity surrounding Fourth Impact, no matter what happens on stage. Last week was a good one for them: a professional performance and a possible sympathy vote based on Celina’s apparent dizzy spell. ‘Ain’t No Other Man’ promises more of the same, so long as it’s not the colour vomit / red-and-black combination with which it was staged for Amelia Lily.
Reggie n Bollie were moved into novelty/fun territory in last week’s performance of ‘Who Let The Dogs Out’, which felt like producers applying light pressure to the brakes after their superb week 2 effort. There’s nothing wrong with their song choice this week, a medley of ‘Dangerous Love’ and ‘Shut Up and Dance With Me’, although a Wagner-style ballad is not necessarily used to ease out the fun act – just ask Johnny Robinson and Rylan.
I’ll be watching this week’s treatment of the Ghanaian duo particularly closely, because we are nearing the moment when the less credible acts are jettisoned in the competition – Stevi Ritchie was put out in sixth last year, in a double elimination on the equivalent show with seven acts, losing by majority vote in the singoff despite beating Andrea Faustini in the phone vote. If it’s a double elimination this weekend, then producers might prefer getting Reggie n Bollie into the danger zone for a similar finish.
Questions galore, then. I can’t wait for tonight’s show to answer at least some of them. Let us know your continuing thoughts below.