The elimination market for tonight’s semi-final centres on Lauren Murray. We explained why last week was a masterful exercise in subtle deramping based on distracting arguments and unhelpful staging. It saw the Cricklewood lass fall into the bottom two for the first time this series.
Attempts to dampen any sympathy bounce seem to be at work behind unhelpful tabloid headlines this week. The lowest polling remaining quarter-finalist, as Lauren is, usually gets eliminated in the semi-final as the bounce phenomenon fades somewhat by this point. Since the phone vote statistics have been published from 2008, this has been the case every year with one exception – Luke Friend in 2013.
But sometimes, it’s taken the singoff to ensure it happens. Every time there has been a singoff at this stage – in 2010, 2013 and 2014 – the previous week’s survivor has faced the act coming down from a sympathy bounce – in this case, Che – and polled above that act. But Lauren Platt in 2014 and Mary Byrne in 2010 were sent home by the panel with a majority verdict.
Precedent therefore suggests the most likely scenario is Lauren losing to Che in a singoff on Sunday night, though producers’ best laid plans can come undone. We thought Rough Copy were preferred finalists over Luke Friend before polling so far behind everyone else that putting them through to the final would have looked grossly unfair once the stats were released. Instead, deadlock meant that public opinion was allowed to prevail.
Presuming Lauren is the target – based on the clear indications that Louisa is The Chosen One, whilst Che and Reggie n Bollie have been namechecked as finalists – producers will aim to prevent a repeat of that scenario.
They will also want to avoid Reggie n Bollie polling last, behind Lauren in third – leaving them with the tricky situation of Nick Grimshaw voting to send home an act he has lauded throughout. If it’s Che who polls marginally behind Lauren in last place, it would be less controversial to put Che through by majority verdict. Though that assumes producers have forgiven Che’s stutter over last week’s lyrics.
Song choices suggest certain narratives that can help with continuing to undermine Lauren’s support. One song, ‘Runnin’ seems in the same niche of contemporary dance track that was used last week for a distracting argument about song choice. Meanwhile, the itunes revelation that she would be relying on her judges’ houses number ‘Take Me Home’, with its unfortunate title, could lead to the unhelpful, “I preferred your previous performance of this song” line. Song choices for Che and Reggie n Bollie both seem in their comfort zones.
As for favoured one Louisa, we’re looking forward to seeing how producers pimp her this weekend. A red carpet appearance and visit to West Ham FC could be the VTs that indicate she’s a humble star in the making. She’ll do the Gabrielle Aplin version of ‘Power of Love’ for another John Lewis special, whilst ‘It’s A Man’s Man’s World’ is there to showcase how big her vocals can be. The last four winners of each series have appeared in the following semi-final slots: #3#8, #4#8, #3#8, #3#8.
It should be another fascinating night spotting the various methods of manipulation on display. This weekend could mark the return of the finalists’ battle buses, which occasioned the infamous moment last year when Dermot banged the Vote Fleur East banner whilst the others remained unsighted. Like last week, don’t make too many assumptions based on the first song when there’s another one to come. Do let us know your continued thoughts below.