Away from the narrative unfolding on screen, the Betfair market is telling its own story about this year’s X Factor – as judges’ houses are being filmed, rumours are swirling about who has and hasn’t made it. Since last week we’ve seen initial favourite Caitlyn Vanbeck drift alarmingly in the betting, despite an excellent edit in last Sunday’s bootcamp show. Now clear at the top of the betting is another act who had a highly promising bootcamp edit – although, of course, that’s never a guarantee of a happy ending.
Ah, bootcamp – it’s always offered up its share of ridiculously forced storylines: who can forget Simon Cowell singling out Zayn Malik from the crowd for the latter’s inability to dance? But down to one episode, and overshadowed both by spoilers from the 6CC and those rumours from judges’ houses filming (as summarised by Martin in the comments), it feels of more dubious relevance.
Offering even more evidence against taking too much from Sunday’s episode, Ryan Lawrie was shown among those being sent home, and yet rumours indicate that he is among the boys in the live shows, presumably having made judges’ houses as the wildcard. Time will tell how this is all managed. First let’s tidy up the final room audition show from last Saturday.
We’d pointed out last week that we were waiting on seven acts who were rumoured to be among the pre-wildcard judges’ houses. We got to see plenty of Sohelia Clifford, 18 and a waitress, who set herself up as a kind of Katie Waissel-esque pantomime villain as she channelled Ariana Grande with confidence beyond her vocal abilities.
There was slightly more cursory treatment for the other supposed judges’ houses candidates. Four of Diamonds were bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, if slightly too slick and uninteresting for their take on Meghan Trainor. There wasn’t enough screentime to feel optimistic for either them or Nate Simpson, who displayed decent enough vocals on ‘A Change Is Gonna Come’.
Three overs rumoured to be in judges’ houses had yet to be seen; two were shown. Christopher Peyton, 46, from Virginia originally, the son of a preacher man, received a reasonable amount of screentime and plenty of praise for ‘I’ll Rise’. Simon and Louis claimed he reminded them of Seal. He was called an “artist” by Sharon, and Nicole felt it was “honest”.
Samantha Atkinson, 32, a landlady from Hull, was filmed at home and work, and had got through to bootcamp last year. She tried Adele’s ‘When We Were Young’ but, amongst some kind words, got slapped down with the “pub singer” tag by Simon.
The final audition to be shown this year featured a heartwarming four yeses for Essex 25-year-old Mike Hough, who had made bootcamp in 2009 and whose rendition of Alanis Morisette’s ‘Ironic’ seemed a little overpraised. He’s one of many competing for the overs wildcard and hasn’t featured in recent rumours.
The bootcamp episode did feel a little rushed and random. We had the innovation of a wall of songs putting three varied acts together. But while we had some of the usual storylines of tensions within these groups, we also had plenty of times producers showed us three acts on stage while bothering to caption only one of them.
Before the performances, we’d had some screentime for Honey G, whom producers are evidently still trying to make happen. First seen on stage was Caitlyn Vanbeck, preceded by reminders of her Kelly Clarkson impression in the room auditions. We saw her overcoming nerves at her choice of Avicii’s ‘Wake Me Up’, before shining alongside Christopher Peyton, in an edit that was incredibly positive. Simon described both acts as “incredible”, and Caitlyn individually as “seriously outstanding” and “pure class”. There were several cutaways to Matt Terry appreciating the performance.
Next up we got our first sighting of Relley C, who reportedly makes judges’ houses again this year. Unfortunately, she was completely overshadowed by Bradley & Ottavio – we were reminded of chickengate before their bizarre performance. The show didn’t hide the fact they were being put through for “ratings”, as Louis described it to Simon’s supposed exasperation.
There followed some more comically or unintentionally bad performances, from the likes of opera-singing Antonia Mirat, living doll Sada Vidoo, Honey G and Beck Martin. We never got a chance to see The Brooks audition during the bootcamp episode, but they featured in a few cutaways during these moments, indicating that producers were at least somewhat keen to keep viewers reminded of them.
The build-up to the next group promised to be mainly about Tom and Laura, who had charmed in the room auditions. However, they proved to be bit-part players alongside Matt Terry. The Olly Murs comparison was wheeled out again for Matt, whose singing sounded wonderful next to the awful Aeron Smith. Much of the audience stood for them. Sharon said of Matt: “He’s got everything.” Nicole said of him: “He’s so cool.” Cowell added: “One of the best boys we’ve had in a long time.”
There was decent screentime for an effective threesome that included returnees Gifty Louise and Anelisa Lamola, as well as Chanal Benjilali, singing ‘Work From Home’. The audience was animated more than ever before. The edit suggested that Nicole’s praise was for Anelisa, though Sharon did go on to say of Gifty, “I do like the girl with the cropped hair,” to which Simon and Nicole agreed.
There was a briefer but still positive segment for 5am and Janet Grogan, about whom Simon said “you’re becoming my new favourite thing”. Niall Sexton was also given plenty of screentime and praise for his rendition of ‘Fix You’.
It was the same for Samantha Lavery with ‘Flashlight’. “We really liked her,” said Nicole. Christian Burrows featured in the next extended segment, with a reminder of his sad backstory before an emotional rendition of ‘7 Years’ that saw his “passion” praised.
There was then an attempt to fashion Mean Girls-type villains out of Skarl3t, who had gone away to rehearse on their own to the consternation of innocent Kayleigh Marie Morgan. Both were allowed through after failing to gel for ‘Ain’t No Mountain High Enough’.
The next trio featured two of the three boys rumoured to be through to the lives, Ryan Lawrie and Freddy Parker. But the focus was on Melissa Pedro, getting support from both during nervous preparations. On this evidence, neither of the two boys appear vocally strong enough to compete at the business end of the competition.
The final drama revolved around the group performance of Rebekah Ryan, Samantha Atkinson and James Wilson. We were reminded of the last-named’s battle with dyslexia and nerves, before he went AWOL. Faye Horne, Ivy Paredes and Saara Aalto were among those seen shining in auditions before the wanderer finally returned. James admitted his guilt before their emotional rendition of ‘I Only Want To Be With You’ gained the judges plaudits.
The six chair challenge may be looming but those following rumours online are already speculating about the final 12 already chosen at judges’ houses. It’s the rumours about the overs which seem most credulity-stretching, with supposed places for not one but two acts who spoilers say fail to make it onto the six chairs in this weekend’s episode: Honey G and Saara Aalto. If this is true, presumably one is the wildcard and the other is parachuted in to replace Ivy Paredes when the Filipino was reportedly unable to get a visa to attend.
Last year’s live reveal of the finalists may have been chaotic, but at least it kept us in suspense until the last moment. Now we’re left wondering how some of the supposed shock inclusions and exclusions will be managed, if they do indeed come to pass. Do let us know your continuing thoughts below.
Photos via ©ITV / @ThePixelFactor