What a difference 12 months make. Last year, the final weekend was a feverish one in the Sofabet comments section and the betting markets, as opinion swung back and forth between Ben Haenow and Fleur East. This time, we have the strongest favourite ever in 1/5 chance Louisa Johnson, and the market has also decided who comes second – Reggie N Bollie being way out ahead of Ché Chesterman. Can anything disrupt the apparent pecking order?
I wouldn’t take too much notice of the YouGov poll in this morning’s Sun, which had the following basic figures: 39% Louisa Johnson, 20% Ché Chesterman, 12% Reggie N Bollie and 29% don’t know. Crucially, it didn’t ask those surveyed who they “intend to vote for”, as previous highly accurate YouGov surveys did (read our interview with YouGov’s Joe Twyman after 2012 for more on X Factor polling methodology). Previous YouGov surveys were based on polling throughout the series. We’ve had it confirmed from YouGov that this hasn’t been done this series, because viewer numbers are too low for them to feel confident of polling accurately, and the change in the question wording means these figures shouldn’t be seen as a prediction.
Louisa Johnson has the odds and producer favour behind her. Those odds may not reflect her performance in the phone vote in the early weeks of the live shows. But it’s encouraging for her supporters that her semi-final performance of Christina Aguilera’s version of ‘It’s a Man’s Man’s World’ has been chosen for a reprise on Sunday. It suggests producers were happy with the semi-final public poll.
Tonight we’ve been promised more angelic connotations (including perhaps, some wires and actual flight), for her rendition of ‘I Believe I Can Fly’. The song worked well for Rough Copy, helping them bounce in week 8 of 2013. Her other song is ‘Fighter’, clearly on the basis that if Christina can work once, it can work twice. With a 30-minute Strictly overlap, we’re expecting Louisa to get tonight’s pimp slot.
Reggie N Bollie don’t seem stymied by song choice. An upbeat medley involving The Spice Girls and Outhere Brothers, plus ‘Jump’ by Kriss Kross, seem firmly in their comfort zone. Expect huge productions for both; it’ll be interesting to see just how messy these will be, and whether vocals will be exposed early on in either number. Their Sunday reprise is the ‘What Makes You Beautiful’ / ‘Cheerleader’ medley from week 2 that first indicated serious producer favour. It looks like a good choice for them.
Ché Chesterman doesn’t appear quite so lucky. Phil Collins’ ‘In the Air Tonight’ feels like the most uninspired choice of Saturday night (although it’s worth noting it was the pimped semi-final song choice of Cyrus Villaneuva, who won X Factor Australia a couple of weeks ago). ‘Valerie’ keeps him on the Amy Winehouse trail, and it’s not promising that we’ve been told on Xtra Factor that it involves a 50s diner theme with dancing hamburgers. If he makes it to Sunday, his week 1 medley reprise wasn’t even in the top five of the vote if we believe the only Daily Star vote leak we’ve had this series.
Like our commenters, we love to speculate on the duet partners, and if any will be a gamechanger. But in truth, none have been since Alexandra Burke and Beyoncé in 2008. Some get bigger names than others, but how they are played on stage sometimes negates any apparent advantage this might give. Rita and Louisa, Reggie N Bollie with Craig David, Ché and Rod Stewart – nothing here screams gamechanger.
Given their expected treatment, we can’t be too hopeful of a surprise result, though nothing is ever certain in these shows. While we’re expecting obvious producer favour for Louisa, we’re looking forward to seeing how they may possibly deramp her two rivals (we’ve already written about how this may occur for the second favourites, at the end of our Reggie N Bollie journey piece), and whether they deramp them both equally or one more than the other. Ché’s challenge is that no act has reached second place after two singoff saves.
As such, it doesn’t feel like there have been too many opportunities in the betting markets this week. Things may change if there are any over-reactions in running, or indeed if the tone of the show indicates something different might be taking place. The Sofabet comments section is a great place to follow the final as it happens. Do please keep your thoughts coming below. Meanwhile, here’s our rather predictable final prediction.
1. Louisa; 2. Reggie N Bollie; 3. Ché