The eagerly-awaited voting stats can be found here. Here’s our take on them.
1. Plan A was on course from the get-go
In 2012, Ella Henderson was 3rd in the first public vote; in 2013, Tamera Foster was 6th; in 2014, Stereo Kicks were 11th. Louisa Johnson won the first public vote. And the second, and the third. Unlike with their Plan A in previous years, producers were never playing catchup with Louisa – it was a case of ensuring nobody overtook her.
She was marginally second in week 4, when her celestial staging saw her nonetheless finish 0.1% behind Reggie N Bollie from the pimp slot. And she was third in a strange week 5, more on which below, but only 1.1% off the lead and when hampered by a sore throat.
As soon as she was vocally recovered, she was comfortably back in front in the semi-final. In the final she outpolled Reggie N Bollie 56:44 before the Saturday vote freeze, and (by our calculations) 60:40 after it.
2. Viewers never needed to connect with Louisa
Louisa’s early lead helps to explain our puzzlement throughout the series at why producers weren’t doing more to help us emotionally connect with her. Over the final weekend we started to get the family story we’d never been told: Louisa mentioned her parents’ divorce when she was three; we met her stepdad on Xtra; after her final song on Sunday, she was joined on the stage by a young girl who turned out to be her sister, Daisy. That was a much less affecting moment than when Reggie and Bollie’s children had joined them after their final song, because we had no idea who Daisy was. Why had we not met Louisa’s family before?
With hindsight, presumably, producers must have seen that Louisa was topping the vote based on them not having told us much about her as a person, and decided there was no need to change a winning formula.
3. The Star burns out
Time was when whatever the Star said about the phone vote could be taken as gospel, no matter how unlikely it sounded at the time – Rachel Adedeji topping the phone vote the week after two singoff survivals; Christopher Maloney running away with the early weeks.
They blotted their copybook last year by getting the percentages wrong (though the order right) in the semi-final. This year they leaked that Anton had won week 1’s vote with 23%; it turns out he was third with 10.7%. Seann Miley Moore was reported as being third; he’d actually come eighth, a terrible showing from the pimp slot, making his elimination the following week far less surprising.
It’s possible, as some have theorised, that they’re seeing genuine data but only from phone votes, not from the app votes. But whether or not that’s the case, future leaks sadly can’t be relied on.
4. That strange week 5
Sofabet commenters were confused by what week 5’s treatment of the acts suggested about their relative position in the vote. Unusually, a case was made in the comments for every one of the five acts to figure in the singoff. Let’s try to figure out what producers were thinking by looking at the vote trendlines they would have been seeing going into that week. (For a note on the “percentage of the mean” methodology, full calculations and graph, here’s a pdf).
This helps make sense of the mixed messages. With Ché due a sympathy bounce, which producers made no effort to suppress, they will have seen that Lauren and 4th Impact should have dropped naturally into the bottom two, as indeed ended up happening. The vote that week finished Ché 22.2%, Reggie N Bollie 22.1%, Louisa 21.1%, Lauren 18.4% and 4th Impact 16.2%.
The messages were most mixed regarding Reggie N Bollie and Louisa. Having opened the show, apparently suggesting her vote was solid, Louisa then got the pimp slot, with some curiously fatalistic judges’ comments suggesting she might be in danger of the sing off: Simon said “this show wouldn’t be the same without you”, and a tearful Rita used the phrase “regardless of what happens in this competition”. Reggie N Bollie, meanwhile, were pimped to the rafters in the first song, but for their second the staging was worse, the vocals were exposed and the judges’ response was more downbeat.
With Reggie N Bollie having marginally bested Louisa in the previous week’s poll, the pulling back in their second song was presumably intended to prevent them opening up a gap over her. What’s most intriguing is to wonder whether the judges knew how the vote was going when they gave their fatalistic-sounding comments to Louisa’s second song: given that she ended up clearing the singoff by only 2.7% on Sunday, at the time she took to the stage – with the other four acts having performed since the vote opened after round one – things may well have been looking dodgy for her.
5. Reggie N Bollie’s ups and downs
We wrote in our review of Reggie N Bollie’s journey that it had been whiplash-inducing: the accelerator slammed down in week 2, the brakes applied in week 3, the accelerator slammed down again in week 4, and a distinct lifting off of the accelerator in the second song of week 5 and the first of week 6.
That’s reflected perfectly in their vote trendlines – up and down until week 5, from where mixed treatment had them pretty much flatlining into the semi and the final. Producers were able to inflate and deflate their vote at will.
Also interesting is to plot 4th Impact’s line on this graph, as their fortunes rose and fell in mirror image of Reggie N Bollie’s in the first four weeks. That also reflects their treatment: praised in week 1, sent on first and with more mediocre comments in week 2, Celina’s fainting episode causing a spike in week 3, and they were dampened in week 4 and again in week 5 when they exited.
Do keep giving us your thoughts on the voting stats below. And for any who haven’t seen it yet, check out Sophia Wardman’s blog detailing her time with Belle Amie in 2010 – a fascinating insight into X Factor behind the scenes.