X Factor 2016 Week 1 Review: Middle-amiss?

Our midweek article is a chance to pivot off your comments, and burrow further down the rabbit hole about what we witnessed at the weekend. This week, we cover Emily’s treatment, Matt’s love life, Sharon’s absent-mindedness, and the reinstatement of Four of Diamonds.

The Remily Files

Cath: “For me, the shock of the weekend was Emily’s VT. Is she out of favour already or was it badly misjudged? However, her reaction to the last minute change of song and judge criticism was very compliant, so I think she at least won’t get shafted for rebelling”. 

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Our pre-lives prediction of an Emily Middlemas win is looking, alas, more than a little shaky. And it had all started so well for our core assumption: that producers shoehorned Ryan back into the competition as a way of defining Emily and providing interest for her journey. Emily featured heavily in Ryan’s VT, and in a way we couldn’t have scripted better with the regional vote in mind:

Emily to Ryan: “We are the final two Scottish people…”

Ryan, voiceover: “Not everyone knows yet, but me and Emily are going out together…”

Ryan’s staging then placed him in a bank of theatre seats – a prop which was recalled in Simon’s later criticism of Ryan’s performance as “theatrical”. On second viewing, we wondered if the subliminal this might have visually conveyed was that Ryan is in the audience, not on the stage. That is, he’s not the star. And if he isn’t, who is? Emily, perhaps: in his VT, we’d seen Nicole telling him to imagine he was singing to her.

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But then came the car crash of Emily’s VT. For context, rewind a year to last year’s opening week, which saw vocal coach Annabel deliver a withering critique of Bupsi: “Seriously, you’ve got to show up to these sessions prepared… You thought you were on holiday, didn’t you? You got your pool, you got your gym, you got your big house.”

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Our assumption was that Annabel had been primed with this line by a producer, to feed into a VT portraying Bupsi as some kind of Benefits Street freeloader. We imagined Bupsi watching it, realising how producers had stitched her up, and murmuring to herself: “et tu, Annabel?”. Since then, Annabel has been known as Et Tu Annabel on the Sofabet sofa.

And now here was Et Tu Annabel, delivering what looked like a similarly well-rehearsed line in Emily’s VT: “Don’t you want to get better?”, she asked, butter-wouldn’t-melt.

The story was that Emily hadn’t been practising enough. This ties into a Sun story, published this week, about Ryan and Emily sneaking out of their respective rooms for midnight trysts on the stairs. We doubt many Sun readers will be clutching their pearls at the idea that a 20-year-old and 18-year-old who’ve been together for a year might have progressed beyond the hand-holding stage and be frustrated by the separate rooms thing, but then came these lines attributed to a “show source”:

“The rest of the contestants have this theory that if they keep going at the rate they are it’s going to harm their chances in the competition.

“It seems as though they’re more eager to release their sexual frustrations than release new music.”

Add to this the awful song choice for Emily – apart from it not playing to her strengths musically, its lyrics paint a picture of illicit sex: “So baby pull me closer in the back seat of your Rover”. And the staging had some low-rent connotations: Emily was imprisoned in a cage, and there were puffs of smoke in the backdrop.

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Against that, there were reassuring factors. Emily was put on in the penultimate slot, minimising any chance that she’d be in voting danger. Nicole’s musical critique left viewers with the feeling that Emily had mitigating circumstances for this disappointing vocal. The song choice was current, at least, and so far that seems to be being seen as important this year. All in all, it was damaging, but it didn’t feel like any damage was done that couldn’t easily be undone, should producers wish.

But will they?

The reason for Emily’s last-minute song change was never really explained in the show, certainly not in the VT. Perhaps it was intended unhelpfully, to reinforce the VT message with a performance that was likely to look under-rehearsed. We’d prefer to hope it was intended helpfully, after a belated realisation that her slowed-down version of ‘Toxic’ was dated and pigeon-holing. Or perhaps it was intended a test of her ability to knuckle down and show she could practise hard?

At any rate, we should consider the possibility that we misread producers’ motives for reinstating Ryan. We assumed it was because they have long-term plans for Emily, but maybe the thinking was much simpler – that if you put a couple in the X Factor house, something or other would probably happen that would interest the tabloids.

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If you’re reading this, Remily, our advice is to say to producers: how can we help you? Their interest in publicity and ratings happily coincides with your interest in longevity in the competition, for another few weeks at least.

Big Matt Liar?

Fudd: “One issue with Matt… they had Freddy question his girlfriend issues where Matt clearly denied he was going out with his girlfriend again promptly followed by Brian saying ‘I don’t believe you’. He was talking about the performance but that edit wouldn’t have been by accident either – it made it sound like he was throwing out an accusation regarding Matt’s denial.”

The above was a great spot from Fudd. Actually, we wouldn’t be surprised if it was an accident – we do like to take off the tinfoil headwear from time to time, and cockups can be made under time pressure – but, if so, it was an amusingly careless one.

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To recap: Matt’s big audition sob story was his girlfriend dumping him. He milked it again at judges’ houses, which was filmed months after the room auditions, singing ‘She’s out of my life’. The week before judges’ houses screened, The Sun reported that Matt and Jasmine Avis had split only “very briefly”, and that they were still living together.

In the week before the live shows, The Sun’s Dan Wootton doubled down, reporting on Jasmine’s Facebook reaction to the screening of Matt getting through to the lives:

Jasmine, wrote: “HE DID ITTTTTTTTT. This guy deserves EVERYTHING and more. Proud does not come close. Feeling all the emotions!”

Somehow, I don’t think this is something a thwarted lover would say after a devastating break-up, which Matt claimed they went through.

Producers evidently and understandably felt the need for Matt to address this in his VT. However, rather than have him VT tearfully about how the tabloids’ unfounded scepticism has rubbed salt into his wounded heart, they had Freddy joshingly ask him if he was fibbing. Matt replies “no”, then the camera focuses on Freddy’s reaction, which looks like nervously conspiratorial laughter.

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Then, just a few seconds later, the first thing we see Brian Friedman saying to Matt is: “My biggest issue is, I don’t believe any of it”. It’s ostensibly to do with the song, but subliminally it can’t help but recall the denial we’ve just seen Matt make to Freddy.

And then, after the performance, Simon tells Matt: “even if you’re dumped, don’t worry about that, because this song is going to get you lots of chicks”. Say what, Simon – “even if”?

This is all most likely accidental, although if we were Matt, we’d still be a little irked at producers’ carelessness in allowing these seeds of doubt to be sown. Anyway, it’s almost certainly inconsequential. Matt is obviously in a great position to win the show, being as he is like an amalgam of some recent winners whom we’ve felt producers have reluctantly had to acquiesce in because they proved to be popular with the voting public (Joe McElderry, Matt Cardle, Ben Haenow).

What still intrigues us is whether producers think Matt would be any more commercially successful as a winner. Or, after last year’s scorched earth policy with Louisa, have they simply decided to run with such a winner from the start, and focus on getting some more marketable acts into the last three or four?

Sharon’s Finnishing touches

Plinkiplonk: “the pantomime about her origins was cringeworthy to the extreme. Could anyone imagine the same treatment for, say, Gifty? ‘Oh, she’s from Ghana. No, from Kenya, or was it Zimbabwe? Who cares, she’s from Africa. She’s FOREIGN!’”

We’ve suggested before that if a mentor appears to take little interest in an act, it can be particularly damaging. Did Sharon choose to pronounce Saara as Zara, and call her Norwegian when she’s in fact from Finland?

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It was certainly a theme Louis was happy to run with, and the camera angle had stayed wide throughout her introduction of Saara, suggesting that producers anticipated it would contain some interaction with the other judges. Even the official Twitter account had a good laugh about it afterwards. It felt planned to us – as a way to diminish Saara, through the eyes of her own mentor.

It could be silly to over-analyse anything Sharon said last Saturday. It seemed like she had been celebrating her birthday a day early. Nonetheless, we did find it amusing that, of assumed alpha boy, Matt Terry, her knowledge was good – “it’s a good job you’re only 23,” she said. She didn’t know presumed beta boy Ryan’s age, but at least had the grace to ask. The probable gamma in her own category? Couldn’t say her name properly, and didn’t even know where she was from.

In Saara’s VT, we noted Brian Friedman telling her “we’re blowing all the budget on you, so congratulations”. Given that the staging principally consisted of a few bits of deadwood, this seems unlikely. Putting on our tinfoil hats, was this a subliminal message about hardworking Brits’ money being disproportionately splurged on sponging European immigrants?

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We’re still puzzled by producers’ reluctance to embrace the entertainingly kooky Snow Fairy. They could have lots of fun with her, safely knowing she can be despatched to the Finnish embassy when the time comes.

Diamond Heist?

Jay: “Personally I think they’ve been locked away somewhere for two weeks rehearsing and practicing getting them ready for showtime.”

As our regular readers know, we’ve never minded conspiracy theories being expressed on this site. What to make of Four of Diamonds reinstatement after Brooks Way were finally axed – forced change or cunning plan?

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We’re currently in the former camp. Last Saturday, Dermot couldn’t move on quickly enough from his brief and vague remark about Brooks Way – it’s one thing to have acts’ dirty laundry aired in the tabloids, but they don’t want it tarnishing the brand by giving it airtime in the show itself. And the padding required from Dermot during and after the introduction of the jukebox twist indicated that the show had planned 12 performances until late enough in the day that they couldn’t think of any better way to fill the airtime.

Anyway, if producers had wanted the girlband in the lives, why not just wildcard them in week 1? It seems like a lot of hassle to reinstate them in week 2 after an embarrassing story. So we’re struggling to believe that producers had any plans in mind for 4oD before the situation with the Brooks forced them into a rethink. Will they develop an interest in them now?

Precedent suggests that live show reinstatements get a week of nice treatment on their return before being slowly punctured by producers. In Christopher Maloney’s case, it was still enough to get him to the final, after winning a public vote to return. Amelia Lily, too, though she returned at a much later stage. Last year Monica Michael showed that without a public vote, producers could take the wind out of a wildcard’s sails more efficiently.

Still, we’re not ruling anything out for Four of Diamonds. Alongside our willingness to contemplate all sorts of conspiracy theories, we’re aware that producers can switch things up at any point. Which seems a suitable moment to hand over to your thoughts on the points above and more.

Photos via ©ITV / @ThePixelFactor

84 comments to X Factor 2016 Week 1 Review: Middle-amiss?

  • Stu

    In regards to Emily’s treatment, TPTB may have deramped her slightly just to test how aggressive the Scottish vote will be for her and whether or not they can control it. After all, if she was pimped – and topped the vote – would it be because of great treatment or because she’s Scottish? They wouldn’t know.

    The producers may not want to put all their eggs in her basket this soon.

  • David Cook

    Why would you deramp someone in order to test their core support level. Surely it’s easier to give the acts fairly neutral treatment week 1 to get a fair idea of where they stand. Then you know how much you need to start manipulating to achieve the desired results.

  • Emily: It’s possible they simply don’t care where she finishes, or even about the order in the girls category in general, and she is actually being a little difficult behind the scenes. Perhaps there was a little paranoia about a runaway Scottish vote but I would expect that will have calmed down by next week.

    Matt: Simon compared him to Olly at the first audition. I still think he seems some potential there. Matt may or may not be too bland for a solo but he’s likable enough and does have the most individual star quality in the field imo. TPTB are obviously trying to avoid being as obvious about favoring him as they were with Louisa. I think the rest is mostly tinfoil hat territory for now.

    Saara: Strong voice that they probably wanted to make sure they have under control. A little surprising if they don’t set her up for the traditional 7th place controversy act finish, since she has the tools. But perhaps they want to push Relley to midtable instead, calculating there’s more entertainment there.

    4D: I agree they were not in the plans for this season. But it’s impossible to know whether the show was at least vaguely considering bringing them back next year, or just being nice. Probably the latter. I’m also wondering whether they might reassess their commercial potential. The only time they tore up the script before was for another girlband but this time Cowell is in the house and the frontrunner appears solid. One thing I think backers should consider is that we haven’t seen them sing live yet and pre-live studio help was prodigious this year. They may be benefitting from an uneven comparison. Interesting EW bet but I wouldn’t get on them to win over both Matt and 5AM.

    • Jessica Hamby

      If tprb don’t care about the girls, which seems unlikely given it’s Simon’s category, then surely that means an Over in the final with Matt and 5am. (They seem most likely finalists to me atm – that may change). It’s not Saara so that leaves Reilly or Honey G. It’s still early days and plans aren’t set in stone but I think Gifty would be better if the show wants to be taken seriously. Honey G can’t even pretend to have a post-show career in music and Reilly just looks ordinary.

  • Panos

    I think they are playing the Honey G “is she real or is she not” publicity game with Matt’s love life just to keep the interest flowing.

  • Mech

    The other question raised here is how to handle this in the 1-12 predictions, as far as I see it we have a few main options:
    Put brooks out in either 12th or 11th – but they weren’t strictly out in any position, this also ignores 4od coming in.
    Replace brooks predictions directly with 4od – doesn’t maintain the spirit of the prediction, almost certainly doesn’t match predictions if 4od had been in from the start.
    Delete brooks and leave a gap in the predictions.
    Delete brooks and pretend they were never there, ignoring 4od. Leaves a 1-11.
    Allow 4od to be entered in everyone’s predictions in a position of their choice – would we get entries from everyone? Somewhat misses the point of the pre series predictions on that we’ve seen everyone else now.
    Run a side ranking for 4od predictions. Is it really enough to bother with?

    My preference is to just remove them from the table, leaving all other predictions unchanged , does anyone have a strong opinion on this?

    • Martin

      The fairest thing to do would be to do the whole bloody thing again, but that is unrealistic. Leaving out any prediction for Brooks and ignoring 4OD seems the next best option?

    • Cheers for doing this Mech! I would agree with your preference.

    • India Marie

      Just remove Brooks Way (BW) and peg the rest as 1-11. Maybe a side-bet for the girls is good.

      Revising our predictions is against the spirit of the game imho, since we already have more information than usual.
      Plugging 4♦️ in assumes they are similar to the boys; I for one would predict differently had the girls been chosen at JH.
      Removing BW and leaving a hole makes measurements a bit flimsy.
      Leaving BW in (as 11/12) is rewarding those who thought they are leaving Week 1/penalizing the one person who thought they’re going to win for something beyond all our control.

  • Milton

    I’m gonna kinda repeat what I said on the other thread because no-one picked up on it. If you were XF and you found yourself in the unusual situation of having 3 strong groups all with commercial potential, what would you do? There’s no point in putting them all in as groups struggle for votes and you’re gonna lose one very quickly which would be a huge waste. Far better to hold one back for next year. I defy anyone to watch 4oD’s three performances to date and believe that TPTB had finished with them, especially now that we now that they are a Syco creation. There’s little doubt in my mind that they were intended for a triumphant return in 2017. I don’t believe the Brooks thing was planned, but it has created the opportunity to bring back 4oD under a massive glare of publicity and launch them with a lot of momentum and goodwill. Surely this is the simplest, most obvious explanation?

    • 360

      I’m not saying they didn’t plan a 2017 comeback (particularly as one of the girls is only 17 and with all 18s its easier to go down the sexy-cool-edgy route), but I would dispute the claim that groups aren’t voteable.

      Tptb usually only put through one strong group and/or undermine the others than their chosen. Its never been the case that they choose to push 3 groups all destined for success.

      There’s on the flipside, plenty precedent of one diverse and supported category dominating when given all the help tptb can. Alexandra, Diana and Laura. Janet, Amelia and Misha. Fleur and Ben. James, Jahmene and Rylan. Rebecca, Cher and Katie Waisell. Even Leona and Ray Quinn from back in the day. So I dispute that they were held back for fear of not catching the votes. Especially past the Brooks, Sinitta’s pet project.

      • Stu

        Groups are a different kettle of fish to the other three categories. It’s difficult enough to connect and invest in all members of one group let alone all members of three different groups.

        In 2007, Simon had the groups and I remember it being the first year the show actually manufactured a couple of them – Hope and Futureproof. Both went into the live shows being favourites to win but by week 3, despite favouritism from TPTB, they both faced each other in the sing-off.

      • India Marie

        Power is harder to share in the Groups, historically the most difficult category to push. This year had a clear narrative for them (at least in my mind): Alpha 5AM, Beta-mid-table Brooks, Joke Act Bratavio. The switcheroo leaves us with the same structure, but now 4♦️ has a stronger upside and can be pushed to Alpha, if not win outright.

    • Surely the simplest explanation (may or may not be the correct one, but it requires the fewest assumptions) is that they decided against going further with 4oD? Presumably the same “workshop” was where they manufactured the Ryan Lawrie boyband, which they decided not to go further with.

      • Milton

        Its certainly the easiest explanation to articulate so from that point of view you’re right, its the simplest Andrew, but for me its not the most likely, which is what I meant. As a viewer they stood out on every measure for me and the feedback they got suggested everyone who judged them agreed. They just seemed too strong an an act to be permanently discarded. Given a choice between them be put on hold and being thrown on the reject pile I think the former is far more likely, do you disagree?

        • I don’t find it hard to believe that their purpose on the show was served with the “Louis girlband indecision” routine at 6CC and the emotional rejection at JHs – they praise plenty of acts they’re intending to jettison.

          I do wonder if they’re organised enough to plan a year in advance for who they’re going to bring back. My guess would be they think about it a series at a time – but I may be wrong!

    • stoney

      Here’s an idea. If as you think the girls were being saved for 2017 why not leave them for 2017? I think we will find matt has already built up a bigger fan base and we can assume he romped the vote last weekend. What makes you so sure the producers now think there ready for the live show but one month ago not think they was ready?

      • Yes, I assume that if Matt and 5AM were looking shaky in the vote we might have seen Yes Lad. Although it would require some serious backpedalling from Louis since he already committed to 4oD being his next choice. Not that the show really cares about making Louis look silly.

        I see little reason so far that they would get off Matt or 5AM. This isn’t going to be the Little Mix season, where all 4-5 plan A/B acts were in the ditch by the end of week 3. Perhaps they’ll give 4oD a reasonable pimping this week and ponder letting them into a top ~4 commercial launch slot if reactions are good. That’s why I find a top 3 bet intriguing but wouldn’t be on them in the outright market.

      • Milton

        Stoney, I’m not saying they were unprepared for the live shows, they actually appeared more ready than 5am. They could have left them until 2017, but as the groups category is no longer overcrowded there is no need to. They will know by now that 4ofD have gone down well with the audience, so with ratings so poor, why not give the public what they want and try and rescue this series? There’s quite a buzz about their return, that wouldn’t have been the case with Yeslad, just more exasperated fans asked what the hell is going on.

    • Fudd

      Holding Four of Diamonds back is logical to an extent but then it falls apart – if they’re one of the bright white hopes for the 2017 series why suddenly chuck them in as filler for this year? They could have picked Tom and Laura as another duo, Skarl3t as the girl band or Yes Lad to up the male quota. The theory is basically saying that they’re going from Alpha Group (at the very least) in 2017 to Beta at best this time around.

      If Four of Diamonds do take off they’ll probably have to take their eye of the ball with 5 After Midnight in the process which’ll damage them… seemingly the Plan A in the first live show. Unless 5 After Midnight really struggled in the votes and producers think they may need to switch horses.

  • David Cook

    I don’t see why TPTB would really want to change Emily’s style this week. As I’ve said above the first week is usually pretty even in terms of treatment (other than the B2/B3 targets) as I’m sure they want to try to get a good idea of base support for each act. This is after all the first test of voting opinion and as we all know on line polls and social media comments can differ greatly from what the general viewers are thinking. The time to prove that you’re not a one trick pony is week three or four – not week one. I’ve also got to agree with comments that Simon will want an act in the final if at all possible. At the moment Sam looks a mile off being the finished article – even with a favourable song choice this week she really struggled vocally. Gifty might be a bit of a hard sell to the public even if she is one of the more commercially viable acts. On the face of it Emily looks like the best option.
    The bottom line is that this probably doesn’t look too good for her. If TPTB changed the song, then they may be punishing to her in some way for some misdemeanour, not practising enough or possibly just not going along with exactly what they want. If she instigated it to prove she’s not a one trick pony, then the unfortunate consequence is it suggested the opposite. It’s possible of course that it’s both – she instigated it and they punished her for it.
    Interesting to see the relative treatment of the girls this week.

    • Stu

      I agree with your take on the girls. Gifty in particular is surely going to struggle to get through to the final unless she suddenly improves as a performer and vocalist. I’m still not sold that she’s actually that good in all honesty. And to be a successful black female act in the live shows, you have to show humility and a powerful vocal (going by the past – I’m aware Fleur was hardly the new Whitney but she still sounded solid). Gifty’s That’s My Girl was a very lacklustre vocal performance – the whole song choice was actually a bad move in my opinion. Does Simon care more about promoting a Fifth Harmony single than what plays to Gifty’s strengths? I wouldn’t be surprised if she was around fourth/fifth from bottom in last weekend’s vote. Her being saved last suggests so.

      • The oddest thing about Simon giving Gifty the new 5H single is that they are currently touring the UK. Why not simply book them for the results show? There was only one guest act last week. Aren’t there normally two?

        • Oddly 5H are appearing on this Sunday’s show, but it’s not clear if it will be a full performance. I guess he values cross-promoting their single with Little Mix more than selling tickets to their tour.

      • Phil

        I’m not sure I agree. Gifty was, for me, one of the stand outs and one of just two that I looked up to watch again. The other being Honey G obvs.

        • David Cook

          The overall impression I got from Gifty’s performance was that it was pretty decent. She certainly got fair treatment with some assistance for her vocals, plus some fairly strong backing vocals which helped. I just think that she’d need the full Fleur East treatment to get her through to the final weeks. At the moment it looks like there are easier options. If Emily really does fall out of favour then she might start to get it.

          • Martin

            I was severely disappointed by Gifty last weekend. The magic of Fleur’s “Uptown Funk” performance was primarily down to that song sounding like an instant classic, and her completely nailing the performance of it. “That’s My Girl” isn’t really that good (IMO, anyway) and Gifty didn’t really perform it. The staging was impressive, and she looked like a genuine star but she didn’t do a lot on stage, and the vocals were lacking. That said, her VT was the most positive of the night and the comments were gleaming too. I get the sense that the show was probably trying to present her as current and relevant in a week where she’d probably not be bottom two anyway. I too wouldn’t be surprised to see her only just floating above the bottom three. If the show wants to continue with this sort of presentation of Gifty, I think they need to make sure that each week, they are confident they can get at least three people below her. If she comes out with a “safe” performance, typical of all the vote motivating techniques we see in staging and song choice, I’d be confident that she struggled last week in the voting. Similarly, if they throw her to the dogs, it would suggest they can’t be bothered trying to keep her safe.

    • Kermit The Frog

      Emily – I believe that she instigated it and they punished her for it. No other explanation makes sense to me – the mild praise from the judges sealed the deal – they were trying to dampen a vote they didn’t know existed. That she survived the Bottom 3 is testament to her strength with the public already.

      Gifty – I agree that she was a little lacklustre – “strong black girl who’s already a popstar performing contemporary/alternative song” is my preferred category as a viewer on these shows. That I was disappointed convinced me that she was Bottom 3.

      Relley – 90s R&B is big amongst younger viewers now and Shackles is much-loved (more so now than when I loved it circa 1998). If there’s a Fleur East / Reggie & Bollie this year, then it’s Relley in my opinion.

  • Jay

    I wonder and hope ( due to pre show investment) the VT with Emily was done as a punishment/warning for her to buckle down. hopefully she’s learnt her lesson and will tow the party line. The other thing I wonder they could want to do Is just get of Ryan. It wouldn’t take much manipulation to get him in the B2. Does kind of depend on how big a school teacher role they take in what happens in the house

  • 360

    One additional issue with Ryan and Emily; if one or both of them is troublesome and tptb wants them out, their loyalty to each other before the show could be an issue. It’ll take at minimum two weeks to get both out due to the number of acts this series, and unless they can manufacture it otherwise; the predicted vote transfer from whichever is pushed out first could throw a spanner into their plans.

    Also with this bottom 3 thing vote to save, what are the chances the first one to fall into the bottom 3 has a sympathy vote to save them to reunite with their other half?

    It might be the case that if both are to fall before the final – or the semis – tptb will have to put plans in motion ASAP as it would likely take at least 3 weeks to bin both – taking into account the sympathy bounce the survivor will get.

    Or they could try and break them up.

    • Alan

      I just don’t see who Emily is likely to appeal to, Scottish loyalty aside. Both on the show and as an artist afterwards. Someone enlighten me please.

      • Martin

        Pre-live show 1 Emily – anybody who liked Janet Devlin/Lucy Spraggan/Diana Vickers/Abi Alton. She’s the white girl with guitar, and there are usually enough voters to get them through to week 3 or 4 minimum. Some voters like musicianship.

        Based on the first live show though, anybody who liked that sort of thing from those contestants named above would likely be very baffled by what they saw her do on Saturday. Her identity was gone – the song choice itself was baffling. You’d think they’d at least give her some sort of insipid acoustic arrangement of that song (somebody performed a version like that on BBC Radio 1 last month) or let her at least present to play a guitar to link her with that sort of thing. It was a very very odd choice, I wouldn’t expect it to appeal to anybody who was impressed by her before.

        • fused

          Well, I might be in the minority, but speaking as someone who quite liked Janet Devlin/Lucy Spraggan/Diana Vickers, and thought Abi Alton was likeable even though she wasn’t to my taste as far as her performances were concerned, I liked Emily’s song choice on Saturday! It made me like that song more, and I’m certain I wouldn’t have liked her doing a slowed down John Lewis-ish cover of ‘Toxic’, or indeed ‘Closer’. In fact, I think I appreciated that she was trying something that wasn’t an obvious choice.

          Again, I’m probably in the minority, after all the public can’t seem to get enough of insipid slow versions of hit songs, (I hate that ‘Dancing On My Own’ cover that’s out at the moment), and clearly I’m the only one on here who enjoyed Emily’s performance this week, but, well, I like Emily, and she seems fairly popular at the moment going by polls. I’ve never thought of her as a likely winner though.

          • I really enjoyed Emily’s performance, although I appreciated that the staging wasn’t ideal. I didn’t/don’t know the song either. She probably polled quite highly this week, given the late slot in the running order plus what I suspect is the bulk of the Scottish vote.

          • fused

            Oh yeah, I agree that the staging wasn’t very good. It did seem very “will this do?”. I’d heard ‘Closer’ a few times before, but I didn’t really like it that much, but I liked Emily’s performance of it, and I heard the original on the radio today, and I like it now! So I suppose I get why the original versions of songs get downloaded/streamed more when someone does them on The X Factor.

            (Had to reply to my own comment here, as it won’t let me reply to Tim B’s!)

          • Martin

            To be fair, “Closer” was number one for ages, people clearly like that song and that, her late slot and Scottishness probably saw a decent vote for her. I just thought it seemed a strange choice (and overall performance) for her, given that all of her performances this year previously have featured her doing her guitar thing. It doesn’t match up with the type of contestant the show has presented her as so far, and I thought that may have alienated people who liked her – more could have been done with what they had to play up to it. Freddy was in a similar song-swap circumstance and they let him have his piano, still. Although he was bottom three so that argument is sort of turned on its head.

          • annie

            I totally subscribe to what fused says here…

  • The Juan

    Another series, loving it already…. Everyone wrote off my Lauren Murray prediction last year, but it came close…

    I got on Sam at 40/1, Simon is playing with her look and they are testing her audience. He will have an act in the final and the other 2 aren’t going to get close, finishing fifty off is easy with a similar sleazy motel setting that finished Lauren off last year….

    Interestingly, he’s compared (during auditions) all the front runners to previous winners… Except for Sam, who he said “you and we just don’t know who you are yet” Sam has also played sellout gigs at the O2.

    • Alan

      This is the kind of insight we came to appreciate last year. Good to have you back.

    • Martin

      I put Sam as the highest girl in my pre-lives prediction for this reason. I think there’s too much going against the other two girls, and Sam is the closest to a “natural” vote-getter the public like in a female contestant. Her audition of “Explosions” shows this perfectly.

      Not that I think she will win, but as you say, Simon will want a reason to go to the final this year.

  • Henry VIII

    Juan I love Sam but I found nothing about her playing sellout gigs at the O2. I must have missed it. Can you post a link or something please?

  • Jessica Hamby

    Snoop has said that if Honey G makes the final he’ll drp everytging to come to the UK to duet with her and that they’ll put on a show like you’ve never seen.

    http://metro.co.uk/2016/10/11/snoop-dogg-promises-hell-duet-with-honey-g-if-she-reaches-the-x-factor-final-6186141/

    • Phil

      And I think they will do whatever they can to make that happen.

    • Fudd

      I wonder if this a ‘tour situation’ though, in that even if Honey G doesn’t make the final they’ll give her a guest slot to perform in anyway as long as Snoop Dogg agrees to join her.

      • Score

        Yes, I imagine if he’s up for it then it’ll happen, but it doesn’t necessarily mean she’ll make the final. In some previous finals they’ve done a novelty act group performance so this could go in that slot.

  • India Marie

    Motown UK are performing on Saturday’s show.

  • Henry VIII

    Cowell needn’t to have a rigid plan for every act. He’ll see how 4oD get on. Motown Week would be perfect for them so it’s very “lucky” for them that that is exactly what the “random” juke box landed on.

  • The juan

    Thanks for the kind comments, it’s good to be back.

    Thanks for posting the link Jess, there’s a few more and some feedback but I can’t find it now.

    I just don’t think Matt is as far away in the votes as everyone would suggest. Also, an anton Stephens style assassination is a good way to finish him off, odd camera shots when he puts in the needless trills, references to how that ‘should be left in the auditions’ and close ups at unflattering angles on his wonky, slightly pig like face.

    Stripping honey g back to a dress and a ballad, and making her do it is an easy end to her.

    Apparently one of 5am is due a child with his partner soon, which may interrupt plans/filming/the tour so a possible reason for a shock elimination in week 4.

    4od are an interesting one, I honestly think that if there performance involves some dancing (not just the usual basic stuff) they are being set up for a run on the show.

    It’s a slightly strange series this year, where all the contestants seem quite easily disposable. Which is why I think the real reveal will be this week, they were testing the water and the vote reaction in the first week. I.e. Predicting a large vote for honey g so face her the pimp slot (to try and dampen it a little or give her a moment early on before running her momentum down).

    I think this week relley or Ryan to go (which would allow Emily t to flourish a little)

    The real value here is in Sam for the win 18/1 and depending on the disposal of Ryan and the treatment of Emily her at 9/1

    • Boki

      Interestingly, I thought the value was 21.0 which I took for Sam to be next eliminated. I like her voice very much which usually means she’s doomed 🙂

  • David Cook

    I have a feeling that the lifeline vote is going to backfire on them very shortly as it’s going to make it very difficult to get rid of either Freddie or Ryan. To me they appeared as fodder to make up the boys category and guarantee Matt the lion’s share of that vote. That part of it may be working. However when it comes to the point where they target them, even if they land rock bottom, they will more than likely be saved by the lifeline vote. Unless they manage to get both in the bottom 3 at the same time this could go on for weeks at the expense of acts that are picking up far more votes in the main vote. I’m interested to see if they stick with the idea or amend it at some point. Anybody else got any thoughts on this?

    • Stu

      I’ve been thinking that too ever since Freddy was saved. I have to say I’m not really a fan of this new flash vote – the producers tend to try and fix things that aren’t broken and then break them in the process! I assume the producers will drop this vote in either week 3 or 4 since they run the risk of tarnishing the majority of the acts with a bottom three appearance which will consequently tarnish the excitement of the show. Is there a hidden agenda to the bottom three flash vote that we are not seeing?

      • David Cook

        I think that’s right – we could get to week 6 with only one or two acts not to have appeared B3 in which case we’ll pretty much know who’s running away with it.

  • The juan

    Also, the regional vote from the geordies has always been strong. Even though she is from County Durham (see below)

    Interestingly, Tptb are highlighting shortcomings in people’s work ethic, not trying hard enough/thought it was a holiday etc.

    Sam has a hardworking backstory (when we were introduced to her grandad).

    Also this:

    According to the Collins dictionary a Geordie is: “A person who comes from or lives in Tyneside,” so based on that she’s not. But then again if you ask many Southerners they think anyone from anywhere in the whole North East region is a Geordie and we don’t want to light the fire on that argument!

    In the past people from County Durham mining villages were referred to as ‘Pit Yakkas’ with yakka meaning hard work.

  • Jay

    This may be over thinking but does the new flash vote effect how people who pay for their votes vote? If I were paying to vote for someone who I thought may be in trouble i would wait till the flash vote to vote rather than before hand as otherwise it’s potentially a wasted vote that will count for nothing if they do find themselves in the bottom 3. Having never paid to vote I’m not sure im qualified to have an opinion on the psychology of said voters. Do we have any indication of what percentage of vote is done for free via the app rather than paid?

  • Stu

    Song choices confirmed by ITV:

    5am Get Ready / Reach Out I’ll Be There
    Four of Diamonds You Keep Me Hangin’ On
    Freddie Ain’t No Mountain High Enough
    Matt I Heard It Through the Grapevine
    Ryan Superstition
    Emily Stop In The Name of Love
    Sam Hello
    Gifty Rockin Robin
    Honey G No Money No Problems
    Saara River Deep Mountian High
    Relley Ain’t No Sunshine

    All very promising song choices actually – 4OD and Gifty especially. Honey G is not at all Motown though so will that signal a “that’s not Motown” argument..? Sam is given yet another ballad… very “Louisa Johnson”.

    • annie

      I actually find these song choices quite unoriginal, my feeling is all (or at least most) songs have been (over) done on talent shows over the years.
      oh well.

      • Stu

        I agree to an extent – Freddie’s song choice is by far the most unoriginal when it comes to XF and, considering he excels most behind a piano, ‘Ain’t No Mountain…’ is a bit of an odd choice. Likewise, I don’t know how Ryan’s ‘Superstition’ will compare to Olly’s famous audition or even Marcus’ performance 5 years ago. Both of the aforementioned two actually *performed* the song – can Ryan move confidently on stage or will he be a bit of a Lauren Platt?

        But I don’t see an inevitable car crash waiting to happen just by looking at the song choices alone… besides the obvious (Honey G).

        • Martin

          4OD getting the Little Mix Motown Memorial song choice. Positive-by-association or copycat?

          Also particularly enjoying Gifty doing a Christmas song in mid-October.

          • Stu

            I may have to rewatch Little Mix’s performance of it and see how 4OD’s staging compares.

          • Martin

            To be fair, it’s probably my favourite Motown song of the ones we have. I think, in Little Mix’s year, it seemed like a more modern choice because of the Mark Ronson – Stop Me song. Nowadays, they both just seem like dated choices. Disappointed nobody has ever tackled “Mama Said” by the Shirelles in these shows – I’m already bored of the song choices.

          • annie

            well, I have to say it was one of the least memorable performances of little mix for me. the song is ok, but it doesnt really go anywhere, does it? i wonder if it will give any momentum to 4oD….

    • Honey G’s song samples I’m Comin’ Out by Diana Ross but yeah, it’s pushing it a bit.

    • fused

      I wonder if Saara will be doing the Celine Dion version of ‘River Deep, Mountain High’? Because I can imagine her doing it that way, but the Celine Dion version is a bit… odd really, so viewers might not respond well to it.

      I don’t know what Honey G is going to end up doing with ‘Mo Money, Mo Problems’, but, leaving aside that it doesn’t really fit the theme, it does still get played on the radio a fair bit, so might not be a bad choice for her. If anything, it might be the only one some of the younger viewers will be familiar with, so that could benefit her in terms of app votes.

  • Chris

    Anyone else find it very odd that they’re giving Emily “Stop in the Name of Love” and Ryan has “Superstitious”? For a dating couple, that’s two very relationship-negative songs in their own way.

    Also, Freddie will likely struggle this week with that song, surely?

  • Nothing to stop 4OD doing the Kim Wilde version…

  • 360

    Rockin Robin spells trouble for Gifty I think. Expecting her to hit bottom 3 with that. From the list alone I can see her joined by Honey G and Ryan, with these three as the least comfortable performances. With that in mind I expect other acts to be nobbled. I can see the public being generous with Relley and 5am for Motown week due to their heritage, while Saara is due a bounce and Freddy, if gay, could score diva points with Ain’t No Mountain, Andrea Faustini style.

    • Jessica Hamby

      I don’t like to make predictions before he show at this early stage in the run but right now I find it very hard to believe Honey G is in trouble. Whatever tptb’s intentions may be for her in future shows, at the moment she’s the main event and the person people tune in to see. They’ve dumped on Saara who is the only vocalist you’d watch the show for and the rest are all fairly bland and forgettable. They’re certainly nothing to get excited about. I think Honey G is safe for a good few weeks yet.

  • Martin

    Arguably the two most well known songs of the bunch are Freddy’s and Saara’s. I’m hoping for a full on Kitty Bruckenall-style display from Saara this week, although she could quite easily be pigeon-holed as a bit karaoke with that song. ‘Ain’t No Mountain High Enough’ is so euphoric and well known, and has a pretty good track record on the show, doesn’t it? Jahmene, Che and Amelia Lily have all performed it in recent years although it suits Freddy less than those acts.

    Sam’s choice seems positive, i am correct in assuming it is the Lionel Richie song yes? I don’t much care for it, but it’s straight up and easy to relate to. Not doing much for her ‘lack of identity’ narrative, mind. 5AM’s is possibly the least overdone there, and should suit them.

    Honey G’s is probably the best she could do given the theme. Interested to see whether they’ll run with the current narrative with her – she’s running away with the press coverage of the show so far, id be amazed if they put the brakes on that just yet.

    I’ve seen no evidence to suggest that Ryan will be able to perform ‘Superstition’ to the standard we’ve seen before. I’m surprised that they didn’t give it to Matt, whose choice seems a bit plodding but the message of ‘Grapevine’ is straight out of the scorned-book.

    Gifty’s is more novelty than Honey G’s is! I rarely base any decision on song choice alone, but ‘Rocking Robin’ seems alarming.

    Relley C’s choice is a bit Hannah Barratt and overdone for my liking, but at least it suits her.

  • Four of Diamonds actually started taking jobs after being kicked off. Seems like the nail in the coffin for any conspiracy theories to me.

    https://www.thesun.co.uk/tvandshowbiz/1976218/four-of-diamonds-reveal-they-had-to-quit-their-jobs-again-as-they-return-to-the-x-factor/

    Early look at their staging. Messy red lights.

    https://twitter.com/LaurenRammell/status/787012417477902336

  • And WTF about Bratavio wanting to do Eurovision?

    Even the BBC wouldn’t be that stupid.

    Would they?

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