Ché’s Journey: From Wine Aisle to Winehouse

Producers have got the final they wanted. As we’ve discussed in our reviews of their journeys, Plan A Louisa and Reggie N Bollie have benefited from some inspired pimpings. Ché Chesterman hasn’t had as much producer favour, but he can have fewer complaints than most about his treatment: he’s been portrayed positively from the start, and was namechecked as a finalist by mentor Nick Grimshaw as early as week 3. It’s taken two singoff saves to get there, however, which have caused the Stevie Wonder-loving former Tesco worker’s odds to drift: the markets now give him only about a 4% chance of victory, down from as high as 30% before his first singoff.

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It’s not hard to see why producers wanted him in the final, not least because his solid vocals lend the event credibility as a singing contest. But it’s also been clear throughout that they haven’t wanted Ché to generate too much momentum, as reflected in song choices that have largely kept him in the box of the “old-school soul” he promised to bring in his arena audition.

The week 1 medley of ‘Tears Dry On Their Own’ and ‘Ain’t No Mountain’ was indicative, in that it was previously sung by Jahmene Douglas in 2012. Indeed, Jahmene in 2012 and Marcus Collins in 2011 are the acts whose trajectories Ché’s most reminds us of – treated kindly overall, but with a lid kept on them through a restricted range of mostly dated songs, rather than being given more varied choices that could have broadened their appeal. In both cases, they faced acts in the final whom producers had pimped more as they appeared to view them as brighter commercial prospects – James Arthur and Little Mix, respectively, with Louisa in that role this year.

Still, Ché has done well from the show. Judges have consistently offered high praise for his vocals, his sex appeal has been talked up, and we’ve been encouraged to emotionally invest in his bond with his affable lorry-driving dad, Ché Snr, who has become a cult figure on the Sofabet sofa. We’re hoping to see plenty more of Ché Snr and his signature porkpie hat during the final weekend.

Ché was given the chance to set out his stall before his arena audition. Having explained “I stacked shelves in Tesco, but I gave it up to become a singer,” he was led by Simon’s questioning to observe “there’s not a lot of soul in the industry at the moment.” Simon replied, “I would agree. It’s coming back though, isn’t it?” A more sceptical Cheryl reminded Ché of Sam Smith and Ed Sheeran, to which Ché nodded but explained what he was talking about – “old-school soul” from the likes of Stevie Wonder and Luther Vandross. His journey hasn’t deviated much from this path.

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With his backwards baseball cap and casual teenage styling, Ché didn’t look like the next Stevie Wonder – but the more unprepossessing you look at your audition, the better the potential for (a) surprise and (b) a makeover. Rita, seen looking unconvinced before the audition, said afterwards: “Never judge a book by its cover.” On the same theme, Nick said the audition was “a complete surprise”. “One of those rare little finds'” was how Simon put it. Concluding his footage, Caroline said, “That was brilliant. That was a moment.” (The overuse of “moment” this year has since become something of a running joke; it’s fun to rewatch the auditions and realise they were at it even then).

Caroline and Olly played a substantial role in bigging up Ché throughout the audition process. Their gushing was a feature of his bootcamp rendition of Donny Hathaway’s old-school soul classic ‘Song For You’. Olly was featured praising Ché mid-song for every solo pre-judges’ houses performance, shouting “yes, yes, yes” at the six-chair challenge, as Cheryl and Nick high-fived in reaction to his rendition of old-school soul classic ‘It’s A Man’s World’.

Ché’s judges’ houses song was ‘Don’t Know Much’, which it is fair to say is another old-school soul classic. It was his parents’ wedding song (a first family reference), which made Ché fear his emotions would get the better of him, something Nick said he should embrace.

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He was kept in the same genre as the live shows began, with retro styling to match. But unlike anyone else during week 1, his name was written in gold on the backdrop. Getting your name in lights has long been a literal sign of producer favour, as we saw with Fleur East last year.

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Ché has also often been associated through VTs and staging with musical instruments, a sign that the show is keen for us to think of him as a serious musician. For his stripped back version of ‘Can’t Hurry Love’ in week 2 – with a simple, cosmic backdrop – he had a piano player. Ché’s mentor Nick looked close to tears during this performance, though it was Rita who said afterwards: “I wanted to cry. It was so beautiful.”

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On the Sofabet sofa we sometimes joke about there being a supply of chopped onions under the judges’ table – Rita’s tears after Louisa’s week 3 performance a case in point – but the bond between Ché and Grimmy has seemed genuinely warm, and it has played a useful part in his journey. (Woe betide any act whose mentor is accused of not caring much about them, of which Simon accused Rita about Monica in week 2, and Cheryl about 4th Impact in week 5.) They’ve joked around and hugged on many occasions.

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As they did so in Ché’s week 3 VT, sitting in a fake car prop on stage, Nick said they were driving “straight to the final”, the first such namechecking of a future finalist of the series. It may have been wrapped in a joke, but the fact that producers chose to include it in his VT indicated they were comfortable with the prospect. Week 3 was also our first encounter with Ché Snr, who was contacted by phone in the VT and shown in the audience after the performance.

Ché got the pimp slot for his rendition of ‘When A Man Loves A Woman’, and while we didn’t think it was one of his best performances, his name had been up in lights again for the drive-in set, and he received a four-judge standing ovation. This was where Rita admitted she was developing a bit of a crush on Ché. Simon, having said Ché was “getting more handsome” the previous week, said his love life was going to improve no end.

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His week 4 VT – showing him on a date with his long-term girlfriend, Megan – put a lid on the ladies’ man talk for now. He was also placed in the Strictly overlap for golden oldie ‘Yesterday’, a performance that saw him fall into the singoff the following night.

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Despite that, many other aspects of Ché’s treatment remained positive. The early part of the VT featured an array of prominently positioned musical props, as he joked with Nick about creating “a moment”. As at judges’ houses, he worried about getting carried away with his emotions. There were musicians on stage behind him during the performance, and a tasteful black-and-gold deco backdrop. His vocals received high praise, and this time the chopped onion was passed to Cheryl.

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Previous years indicated a singoff save at this stage of the competition wouldn’t be fatal for his chances of making the final. To help him there in week 5, producers gave the public the opportunity to get him singing 2015’s biggest number, ‘Hello’, which however he stumbled over near the beginning.

As the judges reacted accordingly, Simon’s tangential “you look like you’ve just come from work” felt more harsh than it would have done in the context of the praise that was presumably planned for the performance. It was intended to be a set up for Ché’s smarter monochrome styling on the second song, ‘Try A Little Tenderness’. Not only were musicians present for that, the four female backing singers made Ché centre of attention when they started dancing around him, reaffirming previous comments about his attractiveness. The highly effective VT expanded on the father-son bond between Ché and Ché Snr, as the pair were shown before daybreak in a greasy spoon.

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Loyal son Ché had come to meet his lorry-driver dad at the end of a night shift; in return, Ché Snr joked that this was the only time in his life when he would be telling his son not to come home quickly. That all proved enough to see him bounce out of the danger zone.

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The semi-final ramped up all the elements previously used for Ché: 90s soul classic ‘Would I Lie To You’ was the first song; its VT showed us his warm relationship with Nick, who affectionately teased Ché about his ‘Hello’ flub; Ché Snr got to chat with Lionel Ritchie on the phone, with tears all round; and the performance itself had female backing singers in gold as well as musicians. Rita said at one point during her comments: “I saw a bit of sex in there. You had a little moment.”

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In his second VT, Che revealed that, “Nick has been like family to me”. Cheryl and Nick were both highly emotional after his rendition of Amy Winehouse’s ‘Love is a Losing Game’, but Simon brought the atmosphere crashing down by calling it “good, but a bit ordinary”. It was a reminder that the priority for the evening was to get Louisa and Reggie N Bollie to the final without having touched a singoff, and Ché duly found himself in the danger zone again, going through to the final after deadlock.

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Two singoff appearances leave him in a similar position to Andrea Faustini last year, against Fleur East and Ben Haenow: clearly the outsider of three in the final, as the other two acts have never hit the bottom two. The revelation that his new song in the final is ‘Valerie’, and that he’ll be reprising his week 1 Jahmene medley, means he’ll be doubling up on Amy Winehouse numbers this weekend.

Our reading is that producers have got the three finalists they’ve wanted for a while. Ché has been the least favoured of the three, but he shouldn’t be too disheartened about that. As we’ve said many times, this show is all about getting exposure and building a profile which you can use to your advantage. In that respect, Ché can be pleased with how his journey has gone, and the opportunity that’s been presented to include himself in a very exclusive club of famous namesakes.

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X Factor stills/clips ©ITV/SYCO

64 comments to Ché’s Journey: From Wine Aisle to Winehouse

  • Jessica Hamby

    There’s been a suggestion he’s signing with Stevie Wonder. Can’t see how that’s going to work.

  • Caro

    I’m away on business this weekend so will miss all the fun (?), Good luck everyone!

    It seems like a bit of an Amy overload for Che, but at least Grimmy’s friendship with Amy gives it a bit of rationale. Like Ben last year, Che has taken everything with good grace, and you get the impression he knows what the agenda is (well, as he reads Sofabet he must do). I like his voice and I hope he does well after the show. He was my choice to win at the start of the lives, but I think it’s most likely that the producers will get Louisa over the line.

    I really love Sofabet – thank you all so much!

  • Lia

    zzzzzzzzzz… snooze fest… not really interested… I’ll wake up just to vote RnB and go back to sleep… zzzzzzz

  • http://www.tellymix.co.uk/reality-tv/the-x-factor/243882-fleur-east-misses-the-top-ten-with-her-debut-album.html

    I know it’s a competitive time of year, but number 14 on the album chart is not a good start for Fleur.

  • Donald

    Fleur not great chart position for album today, failed to scrape into top 10, big change to iTunes Uptown Funk last year.

    Reggie N Bollie no website link on their verified Twitter account or mention of.

    Che has normal website linked to his Twitter. Contact, booking etc.

    Louisa been tweeting to sign up to her mailing list which guess what, surprise surprise clicks through to her ALREADY “official Sony Music” website holding page with all the right links and email sign up to Sony Music, http://www.louisa-johnson.com

    Hilarious.

    It does look good but they not exactly being suttle.

    • Nissl

      Fleur comes across as a singles artist with a mediocre voice whose strength is her stage performances. Apparently the album’s actually pretty good if you like uptempo pop, but I’d never guess from her artist profile and the cheap, tacky video for Sax (they want to try the US with *that*!?)

      I also don’t know who her core album-buying demo is. The best I can do is “general pop fans.” A lot of older pop fans are too cool for XF, and likely to stream or buy digital singles rather than physical albums anyway. She’s also a bit old for the tweens, who are spoiled for choice this holiday season. (I think that’s one reason for the relative underperformance of 1D and The Vamps, as well).

      • mb79493

        It’s actually done reasonably well in the ‘gay male early 20s’ pop demographic.

        It’s also a really good album, I would recommend it.

        • Nissl

          You’re right, that demo does like her a lot. Unfortunately it has repeatedly been shown to be too small to support mainstream pop artists on its own. Hence the frequent jokes on sites like Popjustice about new artists being doomed because the entire forum likes them.

          I will check her album out when it’s released in the US. *grumble*

          • Donald

            Could post the CD for Xmas maybe. Let’s get the weekend out of way first.

          • mb79493

            Maybe not as a resounding success, but it’s usually enough to be able to do decent touring and support oneself. It might be enough to convince Simon to push her more widely, because the public clearly responded with Sax.

            I think with the right singles this could stick around enough to do well, but will Simon give it a chance? We’ll see.

      • Donald

        Indeed Nissi, tough crowded space and genre really. Sax video strange positioning but it stands out suppose. I have not listen ed to album yet, but will, they propably have another single or two tucked away there for spring and summer push with I suppose Capital Summertime Ball etc. lined up. Adele is sweeping up the market young or old at the minute. Enjoy the final.

  • stoney

    By this time last year my world had come crashing down on me as the leak came out and I hadn’t covered at the decent odds available from the night before.
    I’m in the same position today minus the leak 🙂

  • Keen Observer

    Rod Stewart & Che?

    Craig David & RnB?

    • Tim B

      Craaaaaig David, are you sure?! Still expecting them to get Cheryl Fernandez-Versini. Can’t imagine many established artists wanting to duet with them.

      • stoney

        And suddenly Rita Ora doesn’t look so bad.
        I could definitely see che coming second with that duet

        • Really? Whilst a Rod Stewart is a very popular and famous artist, he’s an absolutely crap singer IMO.

          • stoney

            There are a couple of horrendous singers that haven’t got the bottom 2 yet.
            Rod stewart would get che a surge in votes from the greys

          • Keen Observer

            Craig David and RnB certainly gives people a reason to tune in. Could be an absolute hoot compared to a potential bore fest of Stewart and Che.

          • Martin

            Is this confirmed? Both artists are out promoting right now – Rod is popular amongst a certain demographic and Craig David is experiencing some sort of resurgence at the moment. I also think he delights RnB’s demo, which I think is quite broad but generally Craig is a bit of a nostalgic, fun choice. Rita is current and relevant – none are game changers on name alone IMO.

          • stoney

            Craig David is an absolute has been. A 5 minute one at that. He doesn’t have a fan base anymore. This is the worst of the 3 duets id say. Comfortably so.

          • Martin

            How has he got a song to #34 on iTunes with little to no radio play then?

          • stoney

            Number 34 lol. Think that says it all

          • stoney

            I guess the point I’m trying to make is a few thousand fans who have downloaded one of he’s new tracks are not going to catapult Rnb to the win

          • Martin

            I wouldn’t be so sure – I don’t think Che will gain any new fans with his, that’s for sure. Depending on what and how they perform, it has the potential to be a bit of a standout moment.

          • stoney

            Well all I know is that with no voting leaks since week 1 and todays youguv polling shows me tptb have got things just where they would like them to be ahead of the final
            Good luck to all

  • I’m a better singer than Rod Stewart. eurovicious can vouch for me. And I guess Craaaaaig David has nothing to lose after having his career ruined by Leigh Francis on Bo Selecta.

  • Plinkiplonk

    These duet pairings sound seriously underwhelming if true. Rita is there anyway, Rod Steward is going to make Che look even more old fashioned than usual, and Craig David ? WTF ? That guy has absolutely no overlap in terms of genre with R ‘n B, and he’s hardly known for his fun personality.

    Unless there are some changes last minute, I think that well publicised comment by Adele might come back to haunt them; i.e. she will duet with one of the finalists if they are not crap. Looks like she doesn’t, so draw your own conclusions…

  • mb79493

    Rita Ora suddenly looks like the least terrible option.

  • Curtis

    More and more it’s looking like the interesting question is who comes second. Yougov poll suggests that Ché will pip Reggie N Bollie to second, but will he? I think in past experience acts who appeal to an older demographic tend to perform better on the Yougov poll.

    If you think Ché will get second, it may be your best chance to make some money this weekend, because I’m seeing that for 11/4.

  • Keen Observer

    Could easily be wrong here but was the yougov poll not “who do you think will win?” rather than “Who do you want to win?”? which are subtlety different but could provide quite contrasting responses.

  • Dean F

    All I know is I agree the show needs Dermot back.

  • Alan

    Journalistic standards continue to slip. Would never happen in The Star of course.

  • Dean F

    Louisa has a huge double page spread in the Mirror. Whatever happens they need to play their cards right after the show to really give Louisa every chance of becoming the star they want her to be

    • Dean F

      Oh and rather funny how the sub heading is Louisa was picked on at school as if she was bullied. The line of questioning really wanted her to say it but she avitally said she was not bullied but picked on at times and genearly haTed school. Who doesn’t? Lol.

      She seems quite modest and down to earth and isn’t looking for sympathy which is a goid thing

      Edit: apologies at spelling my Samsung is a nightmare

  • Donald

    All oneway traffic really, think they are a little nervous of RnB?, it is never won ’till won.. Biggest pimping ever coming up tonight with two deramps.

    • Dean F

      I don’t think they will deramp RnB what’s the point of getting them to the final to them give a crap show? They will let them do what they do but just pimp Louisa that bit more

      • stoney

        They did it to Jahmene in the final after a full on pimping all series so you never know

        • Dean F

          True but jahmene was different. RnB are there to provide fun. They won’t let the vote go out of control but putting on a bad show in the final could further damage the ‘brand’

          I expect Louisa to be given a full on pimping though

      • Donald

        I think they will take no risks, everything in their power to make sure. Tomorrow show going to very unbalanced with Adele appearing etc. They will be on the job tonight early doors to get Louisa well well ahead in the vote.

  • Dazzle

    The previews are on itunes for louisa and reggie and bollies first perfomance. Che’s isn’t available yet.

  • Jessica Hamby

    Rod Stewart and Craig David? Hahahahahahahahaha! I can’t stop laughing. He would be better off dressing as a giant duck.

    • Edie M

      This was exactly how I felt when I heard about the duet partners earlier. It’s embarrassing, whatever happened to franchise first??

      • Jessica Hamby

        How does Grimmy keep a straight face after his comments about Anton and Radio 1? How does he even look Che in the eye? Holy Moly!

        A man whose fanbase is over 60 and a man whose papier maché headed impersonator has made his face into a living breathing joke.

    • David Cook

      The whole thing about not announcing the duet partners makes it look as if they’ve been trying to get better acts – and failed miserably. Tells you all you need to know.

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