Louisa’s Journey: From Producers’ Favoured Winner to Producers’ Favoured Winner

Sofabet readers have known since even before the first audition show who the X Factor’s producers wanted to win: in our comments section, Donald displayed some inside knowledge when he said, “The letters L… J… to be watched for”. It turned out Louisa Johnson had auditioned for Britain’s Got Talent in 2014, and that’s presumably where Syco started plotting: they didn’t screen her BGT audition, instead inviting her onto the X Factor, a better vehicle for launching a pop career.

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By the time Louisa made it to our screens, someone had bought her the handle @louisa on both Instagram and Twitter (where she’d previously been the less-memorable @louisajohnson0). That won’t have come cheap, and it was clearly an investment in anticipation of Louisa’s presence on the show setting her up for lucrative post-show stardom.

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What producers want, they don’t always get. They messed up last year’s attempt to launch Stereo Kicks as a replacement for One Direction. In previous years, Tamera Foster and Ella Henderson fell well short of the final. We’ve had some quibbles about how they have portrayed her, but we can’t argue with the fact that going into the final, the betting markets have it as a foregone conclusion, giving Louisa an 83% chance of winning.

Props to producers, then. Here’s how they’ve done it, and some of the quibbles we’ve had.

Louisa’s audition was the last one screened in the first audition show, a sign of favour because the last performance in any show is the one that sticks most in the memory, and being shown in the first show also helps to lodge an act firmly in viewers’ consciousness. In that first audition show she performed the Jackson 5 number ‘Who’s Loving You’. We reckon it was no coincidence that producers chose this for Louisa, because of its proven recent effect: it had catapulted Andrea Faustini to breakout stardom during the 2014 audition process.

journey-louisa-audition

After that first audition show, she was immediately installed at the top of bookmakers’ lists and it’s a position she’s held ever since. She was again last to perform in the first episode of the first bootcamp phase, in a group performance alongside 4th Impact, and performed in the last segment of the second bootcamp phase. We analysed the favourable treatment she’d received up to that point in an article before the six-chair challenge, posing the question Is Louisa A Worthy Favourite?

One concern we had in that article was the sense that producers didn’t have much of a back story for Louisa. In a show that has become infamous for pushing sob stories to help us connect with the contestants, there appeared to be nothing much to say about Louisa. Her three category rivals, for example – Kiera, Monica and Lauren – all had stories about their families and day jobs that could help us relate to them. The most we heard about Louisa during the audition stages was that she’d had unspecified difficulties at school, plus a half-hearted attempt to convince us that she had a problem with nerves.

We argued last week that producers’ quest for an emotional connection with Louisa has remained a problem through the live shows. We’ve had a few chats with her mum, reminiscing about theatre school, and some nice interaction with her dad on his building site. But we don’t really know Louisa, in comparison to how we were encouraged to emotionally invest in Ben Haenow’s family’s last year, or Sam Bailey’s redemption in 2013. We’ve been given no idea what makes Louisa tick, what matters to her, what life experiences have shaped her.

Instead, the poor girl was made to repeat a vague line about “all the emotions I’ve ever had” – three times:

It’s not that we’re complaining about the lack of sob story. We just find it remarkable that producers have managed to get Louisa this far without finding any way to get viewers to emotionally invest in her – we’ve had nothing even akin to the moving father-son bonding of Ché and Ché senior, or Reggie N Bollie’s delightfully telegenic children.

Producers haven’t seemed clear about what direction to take Louisa in musically, either. They’ve given her John Lewis-ed versions of old songs (week 1’s ‘God Only Knows’, week 3’s ‘Everybody’s Free’, week 6’s ‘The Power Of Love’). They tried getting her to do some moves in Week 2 with ‘Billie Jean’. They pitched for that elusive emotional connection with ‘Jealous’ in week 5. They went more modern with Justin Bieber’s ‘Love Yourself’ in week 5, and James Bay’s ‘Let It Go’ in week 4.

All were good (with the exception of those sore throat-affected week 5 performances), as Louisa’s a great singer, but consensus in the Sofabet comments was that none quite created the “moment” the judges have been desperate to claim for her – the kind of “moment” Matt Cardle had with ‘The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face’.

It all came together for her, finally, with ‘It’s A Man’s World’ last weekend. More on that in a “moment”, but first let’s remind ourselves how desperate the judges were to convince us that she’d had a “moment” after Week 4’s ‘Let It Go’ (they don’t want to let us forget that she’s only 17, either):

Producers certainly threw the kitchen sink at that particular attempt to manufacture a “moment”, with some inspired staging that we analysed at length in a previous article. They dressed her in angelic white and stood her on a cloud, high up at the back of the studio, amid a twinkly sky and overlooking a distant city backdrop far below.

week-04-review-louisa-pimping-cloudsIt’s been quite a theme this year to associate Louisa with the colour white and other angelic connotations. Here she is in week 1, again floating in a cloud and with a sparkly halo effect from the lighting:

Louisa week 1

In week 3 she’s in white again, with dreamily celestial images flashing up on the big screens behind her:

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Ah, sod it, to hell with subtlety – let’s just give her wings:

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In Louisa’s styling, there’s been a switching between this kind of glamorous sophisticate look and the girl-next-door vibe showcased in the bandana-wearing images at the top of this post, and the ripped jeans for Billie Jean.

week-02-review-part-two-louisa-aIn our view the most effective performance for Louisa was her latest one, ‘It’s A Man’s World’ last Saturday. She was again styled all in white, as were her choir, but this time she was wearing a power suit. Sofabet commenters pointed out that it looked very much like how Christina Aguilera was dressed when she sang the same song at the Grammys in 2007.

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What made the performance work was Louisa’s ease on stage. It was the right balance for her – not rooted to the spot, as with the several John Lewis numbers, nor looking slightly nervous about choreo, as with ‘Billie Jean’. She strolled around the stage – indeed, if we can be forgiven for channelling Louis Walsh for a moment, she owned the stage – as the camera followed her, as if recording a gig. In combination with her powerhouse vocals, it was very effective.

We’ve had our misgivings about whether producers have known how to sell Louisa to best advantage, and it may be that the truncated live show schedule helped them – if they’d had ten weeks of live shows to pimp her through, rather than seven, the momentum might have been harder to maintain. But they must have done something right with her. And they certainly did an expert job of preventing any of the other acts from gaining momentum (with the exception of Reggie N Bollie, whose journey we will look at next).

That’s led to some uncomfortable viewing at times, with some of the acts this year appearing to be well aware that they were being stitched up: Monica’s humiliation at being forced into a hideous dress against her better judgement; Anton’s anger at accusations of fakery; Lauren’s tears as she faced up to the inevitable in the Sunday singoff.

None of that unpleasantness is Louisa’s fault, though. Indeed, it must have put her in a difficult position at times, carrying the weight of the show’s expectation and having to live with other acts who will have gradually become aware that they’d been cast only as supporting players. It was nice to see Louisa larking around in one of the Saturday VTs, acting like a sweet 17 year old.

In these pre-final “journey” articles, we try to identify what an act’s narrative arc has been. For Louisa, we couldn’t find one. She started as producers’ favoured winner, and she goes into the final as producers’ favoured winner. For once, it looks like Plan A is about to come off and the Sofabet sofa may need reupholstering in claret and blue!

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Louisa Johnson photo courtesy of Dave Smith

X Factor images ©SYCO/THAMES TV/PA

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71 comments to Louisa’s Journey: From Producers’ Favoured Winner to Producers’ Favoured Winner

  • EM

    As always thanks for another year of insight at Sofabet

  • Curtis

    Fantastic article as always. I’m going to also channel Louis Walsh here with the obvious “She’s like a little Christina Aguilera”. And with the producers having found that rather convenient niche for her just in time, I’d imagine there’s a pretty good chance she sings a Christina song in the final next week.

    P.S. I only count 6 moments and 2 17s. That certainly wouldn’t meet Simon Cowell’s quota for such a long piece – you wouldn’t make the judging panel.

    • Stu

      I’ve been saying she’s like a young Christina Aguilera (mixed with early Britney) for months! I don’t know how it’s taken the producers so long to find Louisa a set style.

      • Curtis

        I wonder whether they knew what they were going to do with Louisa all along, but they held back on that performance until just the right moment. They wouldn’t want her to peak too soon, and if she was always comfortable in the vote, then maybe they felt they could afford the luxury of giving her an actual “moment” at just the right time.

        Or maybe they really are just as clueless as they’ve appeared in their treatment of her!

  • Plinkiplonk

    Only leaves to see how they nail it down in the finals. Just realised that we will have 2 hours of this excrescence on Saturday AND Sunday each – heaven help us.

    I was looking forward to seeing who they would pair her with for the duets, but it seems Rita has already confirmed that she will sing with her. Feels a bit like an anti-climax, but if they are going to repeat the contestant/star switch they did last season with Fleur and Labyrinth, then maybe Rita was the safest bet…

    • face

      does that mean they are singing one of Rita’s songs? If so none really spring to mind as Talent Show finale songs to showcase a performers vocal ability… nor do they tend to sit with how Louisa has been presented thus far…
      Unless they ‘John Lewis’ songs like RIP or Hot Right Now… ;p

      • Martin

        Louisa has previously said she’d like to sing ‘Poison’ with Rita. Whilst it would show off their vocals, I don’t think lyrically it’s very appropriate. If they could John Lewis ‘I Will Never Let You Down’ that might be nice, or just sing a different song not by Rita, like Nicole and Gary and Tulisa did previously. I don’t think there’s a rule saying it has to be a Rita song.

        • Face

          If they don’t sing one of Rita’s songs then it sort of seems redundant Louise singing with her… Imo at least…
          Fine if all the other finalists are doing the same thing… But Che clearly won’t be singing with Nick and R&B are supposed to be dueting with Shaggy… Sort of makes no sense to me… Esp as she is Plan A

  • TP

    Any value at 1/5? Implies 83% chance of winning, possible she is more likely than this?

  • Nick

    1/5 could only be value if we get to the weekend with no alarms, as mentioned before…. “things” can happen.

  • stoney

    As i previously said if we don’t get a daily star voting leak saturday morning Louisa has won it

    • Alan

      Anyone who puts their faith in that rag wants their head testing. What harm does it do them to make up a story on final weekend if they don’t have anything else to fill the paper? I’m sure that’s how they write their football transfer stories.

      • stoney

        The daily star are the most trustworthy source when it comes to the x factor. If they leak that someone is topping the vote, its 99% likely to be true.
        Louisa 1/7 with bet365

        • Alan

          That only means that the paper had a reliable source in the past. What if either the source of the leak or the journo have moved on? The star never let the truth get in the way of a good story and could easily just make something up. Maybe that’s what they did last year when the got it wrong.

          Is Messi playing for Chelsea yet? Or Ronaldo back at Utd? No? Good old Daily Star.

          • stoney

            Lol all the red tops make up rubbish to fill there papers bit if the star prints something relating to the x factor voting it needs to be taken very seriously

  • Donald

    The story of Leona being her idol was as close as they got to having any real narative for Louisa. The early info. was well decent and was happy to be able to share on Sofabet and at least got some money on at best odds that were available early doors. Was not mega impressed when saw Louisa for myself though on the show.

    TBTB have had to work to make it all happen. A shorter run of live shows has helped them.

    A very short favourite now, deserves to be, can sing, good young girl achieving her dream with full support from tptb. It would be a big shock at this stage of if Louisa is beaten.

    Who will get to peform the winners song in the final two, are RnB next for the deramp on, that seems to be about the only sensible gamble left at the minute but long week there yet.

    Full production on all Louisa vocals next weekend no doubt.

    • stoney

      Glad you got some money down Donald. I know you flagged her up as the plan A but you have not been backing her for the win so at least you should make a few quid if she wins

      • Donald

        Thanks Stoney, Serious value compared to what available now. Series been okay, have managed to cover most stuff, It is good to go for value also early doors. It is hard to steam in early as we all know how variable it can be over a series but they seem to have done the job they wanted.

  • Boki

    And RnB just overtook LJ on telly mix poll.
    X Factor: Who do you want to WIN?
    Reggie n Bollie 43.31% (1,502 votes)
    Louisa Johnson 42.94% (1,489 votes)
    Che Chesterman 13.75% (477 votes)

  • I wouldn’t be entirely surprised if R&B win. I think there is a not unreasonable chance that the pimping could backfire.

    It’s the best outcome for the show. Reggie n Bollie get the winners single and then an album of afrobeat covers just in time for Summer, and Louisa gets time for SyCo to develop her as an artist.

    As we’ve seen so many times, statistically it’s better not to win.

  • Nugg

    Anyone else going on Sunday ??

  • Shraine

    Yes im going sunday. Got priority tickets

  • EM

    This would probably be more appropriate under the Reggie and Bollie story but while it’s on my mind…

    I’ve been thinking about reasons they could win. I think Louisa is by far the most likely winner but they have some things going for them that she doesn’t.

    In general X Factor winners tend to have these traits:

    Humility – they always seem to be amazed they’ve come so far in the competition and are very polite and respectful of the judges, the hosts and those who have voted for them.

    They tend to be “ordinary” men and women who can be seen as having done well for themselves.

    They have a sense of the underdog – winning X Factor isn’t something they were born to do – instead they’ve taken a leap of faith, shown courage and gone for it.

    They display humble origins – van driver, prison warder, shop worker.

    They tend not to be the ones with big sob stories but rather the plucky trier.

    RnB display all of these traits.

    However I think it’s much more likely that these are reasons why two guys who don’t display a lot of singing talent would make the final rather than win it.

    As much as I’d love to see them win.

  • Dean F

    X Factors TPTB have had a horrible time pushing their female tweenie Plan As in recent years and so this year they have managed to do it to what I believe will be a comfy victory come Sunday night.

    Many on here are asking how and why when there seemed to be no clear direction in getting to know Louisa. That is probably precisely why she is winning. I think normally the middle England voters and audience if this show hate getting it rammed down our throats of hard ship for a 17 year old. I mean how can a 17 year old endured what some of us older lot have had to deal with? Most of the time they still have their parents by their side etc. It usually feels a bit condoscending to the average voter.

    Plus letting us get to know these younger females too closely too early ends up with bad stories or just overall jealousy of them from the viewing public.

    Louisa has the looks and the talent and they have kept her with your average normal girl kind of story. They didn’t feel the need to push her with sob stories that ultimately could back fire.

    Maybe in the future if there is one for this show they learnt that for a 17 year old the way forward is not to push them down our throats roo much with sob stories but just ensure she gets light hearted VTS and great comments.

    Ironically many on here feel she had been shoved down our throats and that’s if you find the manipulations, but to your average viewer we heard much more about backgrounds and sob stories if other contestants meaning they do not feel Louisa has actually grated on us and her vocals do the talking

    The only way I see RnB win is if a social media campaign starts against them. Otherwise I think it’s a wide margin victory for Louisa

  • stoney

    Leona lewis appearing at the final. Surely this is to sing with Louisa. Why else would they get her back after she was dropped? Maybe Rita threw in a red herring

  • Plinkiplonk

    I think Nick has clarified this morning that Rita will be performing but not with Louisa, and as Leona is now confirmed I would say we are going to see a ‘best of x factor’ duets round, i.e. Louisa and Leona, R ‘n B ‘n 1D and Che with … hm, dunno, maybe Ella Henderson ? Unless, of course, Feur East has to be shoe-horned in somehow yet again…

  • Leona Lewis has self-confirmed a duet for Saturday. http://bit.ly/1NfiYJ8

    • Stu

      Just a little shout-out to myself for calling this weeks ago. It’s been shaping up for Leona and Louisa to recreate the Alexandra/Beyonce moment i.e. favoured act sings with her idol.

      That said it hasn’t been confirmed that it is LOUISA that Leona is performing with but it’d seem weird if Leona performed with anyone else since Louisa loves her.

  • Dean F

    In the tellymix poll RnB winning quite comfortably now (well in voting terms 7%). Not that it means that much though I guess. I still think Louisa will win easily and TPTB will just make sure of it.

  • Jessica Hamby

    Off topic: Frank Arens (white, blonde girl) has left Alien Uncovered. They are still going as a five piece.

  • Lia

    I was driving home from work today, listening to the radio, and I hear the following:
    “Simon Cowell has been on the phone non-stop trying to get Adele to sing in the XF final this weekend. He is quite desperate but it seems Adele is not interested. So he had to call Leona Lewis to fill in.”
    Thought it was quite funny…

    Also funny I do like her new music. I am forced to endure Radio 2 at work all day and she plays quite a bit there with some other good stuff which compensates for Jeremy Vine & co.

  • Spiidey

    All the signs point to a Louisa Leona duet and if I could I’d lay a hefty wedge on this right now.

    Leona is Louisa’s idol as we’ve saw several times this season. They also have contrasting voices which should make a duet spectacular – especially if they perform Run which I now think is quite likely.

    Leona has more light and shade in her voice which should have the dual benefit of allowing Louisa to shine and also add subtlety and warmth to the overall performance. They also have different singing styles – Louisa is stronger in the upper belting register but Leona has more tone and depth both the higher and lower they both, again allowing for a nice contrast that shouldn’t even get close to sounding jarring.

    I can also see Leona making the moment about Louisa and not doing a Nicole (out singing her duet partner).

    • Martin

      I agree, actually. I think Xtra Factor will probably make more sense of these conflicting reports, but Leona and Louisa seems to be a sensible choice. I also would expect 1D to help Reggie n Bollie reprise their version of What Makes You Beautiful. I can’t imagine any past winner suiting Che very much, but it’s all going to speculation – potentially up until the final, which it was last year.

      • One Direction didn’t win – they’re the Cliff Richard of X Factor in that everyone thinks they did. And so I’m guessing by that mark it’s open to anyone. I don’t expect Steve Brookstein to be there, but it could be anybody. Maybe Kitty will return and she can be our mole on the inside? 😉

        • Martin

          oh yes, i’m not sure why I wrote “winners” there as I am fully aware that they came third. maybe Rebecca Ferguson can come back and sing that ludicrous “I Hope” song with Che?! voice wise, she’s the only past contestant that would match with his style but she’s a complete non-entity these days isn’t she?

          • phil

            Hi everyone. Really not looking forward to this weekend i’ve got 14k exposure on reggie and bollie. Very naive of me to think trading reality tv would be fairly straightforward but it certainly hasn’t.i normally just trade football. I only started reading this column during the live shows which is annoying as some really good advice. Praying louisa gets over the line this weekend.

          • Curtis

            Daaaamn phil. But is it a big green on Louisa?

          • phil

            No curtis unfortunately not. Just £500 green louisa and £500 che. I was intially opposing louisa as early favourites don’t tend to go onto win so had a big red on her. But that week stoney came on here a few weeks back and said “this is the week louisa goes odds on” i looked at my situation and agreed with him so backed her 2k at 2.1 to level up a bit. That decision might and hopefully will save me. My big greens a few weeks back were 4th impact, che and shaun miley moore all who fell by the wayside so been fighting a losing a battle ever since.

          • stoney

            Shit i ain’t enjoying the fact you could lose 14 grand on something i said!

          • Curtis

            Well I wish you the best of luck this weekend then Phil. You’re probably going to win, but obviously having Louisa at essentially 1/28 odds is not good value! Again, good luck.

  • stoney

    Sorry re read it 2k not so bad. A wise decision to shuffle the book about id say

  • Nick

    Louisa cancels Liverpool gig…on voice rest!

  • phil

    Cheers chaps hopefully the market is right. I listen to radio 1 everyday going to work and coming home from work and i just can’t imagine listening to reggie and bollie on Radio 1. It would be so wrong and dreadful i’d have to turn it off. I think they’ll do well out of it as entertainers doing a few gigs but surely winning this competition would leave them well out of their depth

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