X Factor 2016 Week 3 Review: Midnight Strike

Plinkiplonk: “Surprised how harsh they were to 5AM… Maybe punishment for bad behaviour behind the scenes?” Fudd: “To me it felt like a shot across the bows from the show”.

How frustrating it must be for X Factor producers when an act they’re actually trying to help is uncooperative behind the scenes. The ingrates!

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What do you do? Our guess: give them a warning shot and one last chance, with negative treatment that is nonetheless careful not to do any damage that can’t be undone the following week if they take the hint and fall in line. That’s how we interpreted Emily’s treatment in week 1, following her “not practising enough” VT. And we agree with our commenters that this is how 5AM’s treatment this week looked to us.

Their VT informed us that Nathan is a dance teacher. We then saw the three boys bickering with each other as Brian Friedman told us “they’re eating up my time”. The implication: they think they can choreograph better than Brian Friedman. Bad move, boys. Just do what Brian tells you!

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Bickering is a very damaging look for groups on this show – historically, voters have responded better to groups shown as having a strong bond. Nonetheless, the VT was careful not to hole them below the waterline – three times it framed the bickering as “brotherly”, which gives them an opportunity to put it behind them.

Simon’s comments couldn’t have been much clearer: “I don’t know what’s going on in your heads right now. Let me give you some advice. This is a platform where you can have a career. Sort yourselves out.” Given a second bite at the cherry by Dermot, he added: “Too many people were in your ears this week”, but then he offered them an olive branch – “sometimes you’ve got to have a weak week so you can be better the following week. Right?” Capisce?

Let’s see if the boys heed the warning. Producers will surely be hoping so. History suggests they won’t stand for continued backstage insubordination, but they can ill afford to lose the boys – with seven live shows left they have only three male acts, one of whom they’ve already been looking to jettison. They did all they could this week to build Matt Terry up as a sex symbol, but they ideally won’t want Matt to be entirely responsible for attracting female demographics as the show reaches is business end.

Sex SLavery Scandal

James Martin: “I’m with Nicole. It was beyond awful. The song, vocal and production were all too big for her… and she looked like roadkill. Did Nicole go rogue I wonder?”

Speaking of 5AM’s Nathan, earlier this week, The Sun reported he’d been “romping in a cupboard” with Sam Lavery.

Last Saturday we’d wondered whether Sam’s apocalyptic staging for ‘Earth Song’ was deliberately setting out to be damaging by visually associating her with steaming scrap metal and industrial pollution, or was it just arty high-concept stuff.

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The plinths for her musicians reminded us of “Kye Fawkes night” from 2012, when Kye Sones was unsubtly plonked on top of a bonfire. It’s also worth remembering that the last time ‘Earth Song’ was used on this show, for Andrea Faustini, the backdrop was meteors smashing down on London. (A visual metaphor for immigration? That’s something they haven’t done to Saara Aalto… yet).

We also wondered about the comments: high praise from everyone except Nicole. Was the intention to help Sam, and Nicole had gone rogue? (Reasons for wondering this below). Or was the intention to deflate Sam, by having the other judges supply wildly overcooked hype so viewers would see Nicole as the voice of reason?

The picture may be clearing thanks to another story in The Sun, which appeared yesterday. The headline: THE TEXT AXER. The subhead, quoting “heartbroken” Acea Brabook, a 24-year-old barman: “Fame-hungry X Factor wannabe Samantha Lavery dumped me by text after promising fame wouldn’t change her”.

There are two things to say about this story. The first is that it’s horribly unfair to Samantha. The headline and lede make her sound awful, but when you read the story it’s clear that there’s nothing to it. It turns out that Acea had only been dating Sam for “a couple of months”, and that the split came “as she prepared to take part in the live shows” – and not, which is the conclusion you’d jump to if you didn’t read the story carefully, following the alleged cupboard romp.

The Sun published a text conversation between Acea and Samantha, which is captioned “Devastating . . . texts exchanged by the pair”. Leaving aside the ethics of sharing a private exchange of messages with The Sun, the actual converation shows her being considerate and letting him down gently.

So, to summarise, the case against Samantha is this: having got through to the X Factor live shows, in anticipation of spending weeks away from home in a big city, she told the guy she’d been dating for just a couple of months that “it’s best to just leave it for now”. Which sounds… well, very wise and sensible, and maturely handled. And then, as a single girl, she allegedly hooked up with a single guy. The horror!

Anyway, from a punting perspective the second thing to say about this story is that it sounds an alarm bell. We assume that stories don’t get published in The Sun unless the show either actively wants them published, or is sufficiently relaxed about it not to stop it. And this isn’t the kind of story you would think the show would want doing the rounds about an act they were invested in for the long term.

A Clean Kill

Rose L: “The last thing a girl group need to do on the X Factor is sex themselves up so why did Nicole and Sharon suggest they should unless it’s misleading sabotage?”

Simon introduced a new verbal kill shot on Saturday: “clean”. To Ryan he said: “I thought the performance was clean. Almost too clean. It needs roughing up.” To Relley he said: “For me it was all too clean again”, before going on to contrast with the “edge” of the week 1 rap.

We can’t remember “too clean” being used as a criticism on this show before – so when it’s used twice in one show, and both acts end up in the bottom three, it makes our ears prick up. We’re struggling to come up with a theory, though, as to why the word “clean” might demotivate votes. Answers on a postcard, please, in the comments below.

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Interestingly, the bottom three was rounded out by 4 of Diamonds, who got a thematically similar critique – not a complaint about excessive cleanliness, but a request for more dirt. Nicole said: “I’m a saucy girl, I want more sauce”. Sharon said: “Get down and dirty, it was too polite… and you’re so sexy, stop trying to hide it”.

At least here the thinking seems easier to discern. As Rose comments above, precedent suggests that sluttiness is a bad look for girl groups on this show. But if the judges had called the performance “sexy”, “saucy” and “dirty”, that might have created an awkward atmosphere and some vote-motivating sympathy for them. By getting the judges to ask for more of these qualities, it still associates the words with them, and makes viewers think “hang on, they were dressed in short skirts and cavorting suggestively with sailors! You want it even saucier?!”

It’s also, of course, helpfully terrible advice for next week. Let’s see if the girls take it.

Scherzy Off Script?

Daz: “Anyone else notice Simon telling Nicole to sit down after Ryan’s performance as if she’s not doing what she’s supposed to do.”

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He did indeed do that. (She sat down). He also told Nicole to stand, like the other judges, after Emily’s performance. (She stayed seated). And while we usually assume that judge bickering is all part of the pantomime, like any workplace there will surely be behind-the-scenes disagreements, which may occasionally spill over into public view.

We get the impression that Ryan is well aware of how he’s being treated, and it must be difficult for him to process emotionally – there must be some envy of Emily’s kinder treatment, followed by guilt about the envy. It doesn’t seem implausible to wonder if he’s poured his heart out to Nicole, who has sympathised and sought to fight his corner internally.

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And if that is the case, Simon’s comment after Ryan’s performance – that Nicole had been neglecting her mentorly duties to focus on rehearsing her own show-opening routine – might have riled her. It made us wonder whether her critique of Sam, and her questioning of the momentness of Emily’s moment, might not have been entirely on-message.

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

Edie M: “Well they’ve totally middle-englanded Gifty, whether or not that’s a good sign of voting history, it certainly seems she has producer support.”

Here at Sofabet, we’ve developed a slightly unhealthy obsession with the contestants’ hair. The week after Ryan’s curls were changed out of all recognition as part of a serious deramp, Gifty came on stage with her trademark short locks covered by a wig that looked like it had been transferred from Tamera Foster’s head.

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Except the treatment for Gifty remained as positive as before. The VT about her mother’s death at a tender age was clearly an attempt to build an emotional connection between her and viewers. Afterwards, “emotion” was used by Louis, Sharon and Dermot (twice), with Nicole and Simon expanding on it by agreeing she had “opened up”.

The performance itself had featured golden lighting, a choir on the stairs, and Gifty adjacent to the judges (as close to the audience as possible), where Tamera had coincidentally ended up in her week 3 Beyoncé cover. Afterwards, she was called a “star” three times by Louis, once by Sharon, and “stellar” twice by Nicole.

Louis, Simon and Dermot also talked about the new wig, and it stayed on for Sunday night’s results show, where the attempt to soften Gifty had an unfortunate setback when she dropped the f-bomb. You couldn’t get a more obvious symbol of the show’s attempts to make Gifty’s image more palatable to Middle England by covering her colourful short locks with a blonde wig.

To us, it clearly suggested she hasn’t been polling as well as they’d like. But what will happen to her hair when Fright Night comes around? Our unhealthy obsession is set to continue.

Terry Firmer

Stoney: “The steamtrain tanks on.”

Last year, we’d reviewed Louisa Johnson’s journey from first audition show pimp slot to odds-on favourite for the final weekend, by making the point that there hadn’t been much of a journey at all: she’d always been favoured, and never faced any significant obstacle or negativity on the show. It’s beginning to feel similar with Matt Terry this year. His VT involved him hanging out with his brothers and friends, a set up to show his attraction to the opposite sex (most notably his mentor Nicole), which is how it’s been from the very start.

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Like Louisa, Matt’s strengths include a strong enough voice, and a willingness to go along with whatever is thrown at him, most notably at 6CC, when he had to restart his song a “half-step” lower, and then sing again with Christian Burrows for the final seat. This week, his main market rivals, 5 After Midnight, discovered the perils of not playing ball so consistently.

After performing ‘I’ll Be There’, the judges’ unqualified praise included Simon saying, “you can see the winning post maybe in sight”, which is unprecedented with seven weekends to go. It prompted Dermot to say, “early days.. but every single week you’re getting this great feedback”. Matt had looked close to tears after Louis’s comments, and Dermot suggested this was still the case: “You’re breaking up on me. Don’t cry yet.” Coincidentally, Louisa and Rita had gone a half-step further in week 3 last year, squeezing a good few tears out between them.

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Matt is now a shorter-priced favourite than Louisa was at this stage. But with ten weekends of live shows to get through, instead of the seven that Louisa experienced, will producers mix things up a little by qualifying their praise at some point? Even if they do, it currently seems unlikely to be designed to damage his chances of taking the prize.

Please let us know your thoughts on these points, and any others, below.

Photos via ©ITV / @ThePixelFactor

158 comments to X Factor 2016 Week 3 Review: Midnight Strike

  • Phil

    After a few years of being a bit meh about her, Nicole is fast becoming one of my favourite things about the show this year. I think your theory about Ryan pouring his heart out to her is probably spot on and if so, it will be fascinating to see to what extent she refuses to play ball. It’s just a shame that Matt is her act, it’d be refreshing to hear some honest critique on him rather than the exaggerated gushing he’s been given so far.

    Her diva medley was amazing too.

    • Curtis

      Nicole’s diva medley was the highlight of the show for me, for sure. But it kinda did a lot to highlight the deficiencies of the actual contestants!

      I’ve always had the impression in past years that no one is more in the back pocket of Simon Cowell than Nicole Scherzinger (oh, well there’s Louis, but we all ignore him!). That being said there have been a couple of hints this series that that might be changing, but I’m yet to be fully convinced. We’ll see!

  • Martin

    I think Saturday was full full of mixed messages. I re-watched the show last night and there were a few things which struck me as odd. Nicole being off-message was the main one – let’s not forget that she was “head judge” on her last run, and may occasionally believe that she knows better than her script. She seemed very half-hearted and by-numbers during a lot of her comments, although she was careful to pitch her critique of Emily and Sam in as positive-a-way as possible. She was also exceptionally passionate when leaping to Relley C’s defence after Simon’s critique, who isn’t even her own act. (As it happened, Sharon sat in silence through all of it). Whether it was a knee-jerk reaction to Simon’s sniping at her throughout the show, or other ideas as you suggest. She seemed in pretty high spirits at the start of the show. Either way, there was a lot more inter-judge disputing this week than there has been previously.

    Simon also called Sam’s performance the best one so far. Seemed an odd thing to say, especially as they went to such trouble for Gifty, who Sam performed after. As the article says, it may have just been a device for the audience to react “…eh?!” afterwards, but I think there’s an audience for her. The MOR/dad-rock act has worked for Ben Haenow, Luke Friend etc. in the past. I’m wondering if Sam is appealing to their demo.

  • Martin

    I also question the wisdom of what they’re doing with Gifty. It was definetly “make everybody like Gifty” week, but drastically changing her identity so quickly, and barely acknowledging it in the VT may have been a bit hasty. It reeked of desperation to me – I think a gradual makeover would have been a better journey for her, and her VT should have been saved for a pimp slot. Wasting all of that on a second-up performance which wasn’t even that good felt throwaway. If it didn’t reflect in her voting, I won’t be surprised to see her thrown under the bus this week.

    • Allan

      If the vote lines opened before anyone has performed as was the case this week then surely last no longer becomes a “pimp” slot and is replaced by the first or second slots?

      • Martin

        Unsure – there’s conflicting evidence to suggest either way but I’m pretty sure it doesn’t make a lot of difference. After all, this week was the first Saara was safe and she was on last and Ryan was b3 after being up first.

  • EM

    “Too clean” I have no one theory about it but it could invoke a good few things:

    Too polished – i.e. Not authentic
    Bland
    Dull
    Sanitised – had everything interesting taken out

    I’m leaning towards it being a turn off to younger voters. A quarter of the best selling songs right now have explicit lyrics. Videos, artwork and performances are hyper sexualised. Clean isn’t something that goes down well with the younger audience.

    Clean will work for your gran though.

    • Edie M

      Could well be linked to the idea of it being inauthentic. Recent research suggests that ‘authenticity’ is a concept especially important to younger millennials and gen Z.

      • Spiidey

        I agree. Clean implies the opposite of “raw” i.e. The opposite of fresh / new / strong.

        That word will particularly resonate with the younger audience.

  • Rose L

    Thanks for this, a perceptive article as ever. It’s very plausible that Nicole went off script this week – later on in the show (was it during the critique of Emily?) Simon said “shut up” repeatedly to Nicole and it felt a bit stronger than the usual staged bickering we get onscreen. I do agree that Ryan is fairly aware of the manipulations he is facing and knowing you are going to be treated badly before it happens makes things so much worse. It wouldn’t be surprising if Nicole is sympathetic to his cause (although James Hughes described her as being totally uninterested in him, which suggests any heart she has has its limitations).
    The article about Sam which appeared in The Sun may not be particularly bad news for her because, as you so clearly pointed out, she doesn’t come off as in the wrong here and the guy, who has rather distastefully sold his story to the newspaper (and he won’t have got much money for it either!) comes over as a bit of a desperate saddo. To be so publically upset and injured after a couple of months of dating really isn’t justifiable, no matter what was exchanged between the pair. He’s the one who comes over as fame-hungry to me and I would like to think that anyone who bothers to read it is going to realise there is no real story. Of course The Sun are going to stick on some shocking headlines because that’s what they do, but anyone who reads further is going to realise there’s not much there to worry about. That’s why I suspect the show didn’t bother to block it – they might prefer to save their guns for something meatier (Matt’s nun-porn habit, perhaps?) To have stopped this story, they’d probably have had to offer something else in exchange and it wouldn’t have been worth it IMO.
    That said, I thought Sam’s staging was very dark and when the backing singers started all that facial emoting, it seemed almost disturbing. I’m not sure it was meant to be a great success and it may very well be that her card is marked for a deramp coming quite soon.
    But 4OD will be the ones to watch for me next week. When they hit the stage in scanty black corsets, suspenders, fishnet stockings and nothing else, we will know their time is up. Maybe one of them reads Sofabet and will realise they are going to be set up unless they resist – but as we saw with Jack Walton (thanks for the reminder, Daniel), it was damned if you do, damned if you don’t. There is no escape. Cue spooky laughter.

  • 360

    No-one else thinks ‘too clean’ on 4oD was an early setup for sexing them up next week, slamming them for it (or even muted praise, or praise that the audience will react incredulously to), and then voting them off?

    The one thing, as identified in the past, that elevates and protects girl groups is them being seen as safe and ‘won’t steal your boyfriend’ – to appeal to young women, mums, and little girls. The acts need to be dipping into as many pools has possible to get enough vote % to survive week on week. A sexed-up girl group has the triple threat of allowing critique to fall on the clothes and outfits, turning the kind of voters who normally like girlbands off them, and even possibly allowing them to do something more daring with Gifty, who will look less threatening by comparison. Maybe even with Saara.

    No, I’m 90% sure that comment was just sowing the seeds for next week, and suggesting this week, as Sharon and Nicole did, that sexed-up is more “who they are” both primes the girls to go along with it, and then allows the show to turn on them and say that if this is who they are, maybe they aren’t right for the show.

    Too racy costumes might even allow them to save Saara against them if she falls back into the bottom 3 (or 2) after her bounce this week. Saara singing a ballad in a long dress vs the girls dressed in Blonde Electra’s cast offs singing Iggy Azalea or something will be a very easy decision for judges to ‘base on that performance’.

    edit: apologies Rose, I hadn’t read your comment which touches on the same points when I wrote this one

    • Edie M

      but he didn’t use ‘too clean’ on 4oD- he used it on Ryan & Relley (this is not to say they’re not setting the girls up for next week, just that your point doesn’t answer Daniel’s q about ‘clean’).

  • plinkiplonk

    I would agree to assume that the ‘too clean’ comments may relate to ‘too polished’ i.e. ‘too rehearsed’ and by extension ‘too professional’. There is an increasing amount of comments on mainstream social media about most/all acts being cast through agents and the like, so ‘dirty’ could equate ‘authentic’ and ‘real’, and therefore ‘more deserving’…

    As for 4oD being more sexy, I still remember how they tore into that one girl group composed of ex-strippers for dressing too sluttily, but then this programme has never been known for being consistent with their critiques…

    Looking forward to seeing the song choices, that should make a few things clearer…

  • Rose L

    I Googled “music too clean” and came up with the following:
    http://www.npr.org/sections/therecord/2010/08/31/129562500/pop-off-can-songs-be-too-fresh-too-clean
    https://www.reddit.com/r/audioengineering/comments/2onsou/a_band_said_their_mix_sounded_too_clean/
    It seems to have a technical meaning related to how music is recorded and the opposite of clean is “dirty” or “raw”. Maybe this is what Cowell meant?

  • Rose L

    But I should add that if it was, I see no reason why this would demotivate votes or end up with an act being in the bottom three.

  • 4oD are supposedly doing something “stripped back” this week. That would be the right general direction to take them after the mess last week, but let’s see if they actually meant “no stage support” and/or “stripping” instead.

    Their biggest actual problem at the moment is that they aren’t really connecting with the song, or rather letting the song connect with them, resulting in a dead performance that is indeed “too polite.” Again, I would be mildly surprised if the show wanted them off next week as they seem to be a great vehicle for hyping Little Mix, but then creating outfits and performances for a type of act that wasn’t supposed to be there this year may be a headache.

    Surely it’s time for a girl to enter the crosshairs along with the existing targets? But it’s difficult to work out who from current evidence. Amazing how many show relationships have happened this year after many seasons of producer encouragement to little effect.

  • Ben Cook

    I think people might be reading too much into the 4OD “too clean” thing. Seemed to me that Nicole’s critique was genuine and correct. Their performance was too tame for a song like that.

    • I agree completely that they were too tame/polite, but I don’t see their natural mode as any more “saucy” or “dirty” than for example The Sats were. They’re kinda pumpkin spice latte girls tbh. Regardless of intent, they lack the physicality to pull off big uptempos, at least at this point. Not to say that LM were much stronger when they were on the show; their best performances involved very limited movement compensated for by huge stage support. It took a couple years of touring for them to build up those muscles.

  • Woofie

    The thing I find with 4OD is that everything has moved from what I thought (and maybe the audience too) that they were going to bring to the show from their judges houses appearance… “retro with a modern twist”.. The themes for the last two weeks, Motown and Divas, surely allowed for them (producers) to develop that aspect. Although it has been only two weeks it is like that “USP” has been completely (deliberately?) discarded and forgotten about. To me it feels like the usual X Factor girl group journey albeit with a late start. The only salvation is they have “potential”, need “more time” to find their grove… will they make a significant step in the “right” direction or be completely “wrong” footed this week?

  • fused

    I agree with what seems to be the consensus on here on the “too clean” as a criticism this week, that it suggests a performance was too polished, sanitised, safe, bland, not authentic etc. The show also might be starting to use it because it is just the problem with the sort of acts which win on this show. Most of the time we get someone who is inoffensive, seems nice, is a very good singer technically, can easily pull off all the middle-of-the-road songs that they have to sing on the show. But when it comes to the pop charts, it’s all about having at least the impression of having an ‘edge’ at the moment, so that’s one reason why a lot of X Factor winners never really take off let alone last long.

    We’re probably heading for that sort of winner with Matt this year. I wonder if that’s why his VT was full of all that “He’s one of the LADZ!1!” and “he’s the heartthrob who gets all the fanmail” stuff. To try and give him more of the edge?

  • Jessica Hamby

    “Too clean” doesn’t mean anything in terms of valid or genuine criticism. Tptb organise which songs are sung, how the music is arranged, the dance routines and all the rest or, when the don’t we get told about it (see 5AM). The contestant’s shouldn’t be being criticised for any of that and Cowell et al know it.

    “Too clean” is just a novel way of telling the audience to not like something. I think we look for complexities that just aren’t there far too often on this site.

    • Phil

      I love how Honey G literally sticks 2 fingers up at viewers whenever she is photographed, like in those links.

    • David Cook

      That answers my main question about Honey G – how does she keep up the pretence 24/7 for x weeks. She doesn’t.

      • Rose

        If you consider that some method actors stay In character for the entirety of shooting a film, it may not be such a big ask, especially if it’s true that she has a room of her own in the house while others share, meaning she can control some of the extent of her interaction with others.

        • David Cook

          That’s my point. Clearly they’ve given her a room of her own to allow her to go out of character, to be able to speak in her own voice and act normally. Have a normal telephone conversation with Mummy G or whoever. Not have to be Honey G 24/7.

  • Plinkiplonk

    There we have it – the lesbian stories about Saara coming out as predicted. And a complete non-story, too, so you know it’s been placed with a motive behind it…

    • 360

      ‘lesbian lover’ christ almighty, are we living in 2016 or 1956?

      The show plays into it though. I can’t think of a single gay act that’s been acknowledged and treated sympathetically while being allowed to be a gay person. The show loves camp, but a person with a same-sex partner – that relationship will be staying FIRMLY offscreen.

  • Martin

    The ‘too clean’ thing could just be a nicer way of saying ‘it was boring’. Remember how damaging Gary Barlow got a few years ago when he effectively told every single act that they were boring consecutively? Granted, he was correct, but to have someone blatantly point that out to a tv audience is harmful. I think it’s Simon’s way of saying an act is boring everybody to tears without saying as much.

    Ultimately, I think Jessica is correct in saying it’s another way of puncturing the mood though. I’ll be interested to see if it gets used again.

    • Jessica Hamby

      I think it’s a vague, meaningless criticism that allows everyone to interpret in their own way. You FIND something wrong with the performance because you assume the criticism MUST be valid or it wouldn’t have been made. Someone else could perform identically but be congratulated for how far they’ve come and the audience would look at all the good stuff instead of searching for the negative stuff. That’s how the judges’ comments work. They’re the JUDGES. They have authority and so we give credence to what they say, even though we know they’re manipulating us and their comments are designed to get the result they want rather than to be an honest and objective assessment. It’s a huge con trick. Please stop falling for it.

      • Rose L

        As mentioned above, there is a technical explanation for this phrase, to do with the way the music is produced. I’m not technically knowledgeable regarding music but it is apparently connected to the current, common use of compression which avoids the old distortion you used to find on original recordings. Everything is as clear as a bell and thus a bit boring and lacking the atmosphere you’d find on, say, the original hip hop recordings where you might hear hissing or other background noises. When Cowell used the word “clean”, I immediately thought this probably has a specific musical meaning although I also agree with Jessica that it actually doesn’t matter all that much what it means as it is being used as a generalised tool to bash acts with; the audience are unlikely to comprehend a specific musical term unless they have experience in the area, they just know Cowell says something isn’t right.
        So yes, in a sense it is about authenticity and music being over-produced now. Not that the acts should be blamed for the way their music is produced and touched up on the X Factor – it’s not their choice – but that’s never stopped the judges blaming them before for things out of their control.

        • Jessica Hamby

          You seem to be saying that it is both a valid and an invalid criticism at the same time. Even if what you say is correct, the contestant has no input into the sound production so it is a pointless and irrelevant comment and it’s only function is to damage the contestant.

          Look how much we’re all arguing about what it means. The only common assumption is that it must mean something. Here’s a thought – it doesn’t need to mean anything because it’s been effective anyway.

          It’s like the Emperor’s New Clothes, with everyone rushing to give their considered explanation because they don’t want to appear stupid by not understanding what the “expert” is talking about. The King is in the altogether.

          • But Jess, the question is why it’s effective? (Assuming it is: only two data points, could still be coincidental). What subliminal buttons might the word “clean” be pressing in viewers’ minds, as opposed to if Cowell had just picked some other adjective at random from the dictionary?

            The “inauthentic” connotation, aimed at a younger audience, makes sense to me.

          • Jessica Hamby

            Can I be honest with you? That performance was tasted far too yellow for me. I wanted more green in it. The yellow made it ok. The green would have made it much better. If you could have popped the flarg it would have been great. But as it is, you were ok. I’m sure you’ve done enough to get through to next week but nothing special. Just ok. Next week we want to see something a bit better. Think green. We don’t want bland anymore.

            You know what. That performance was yellow too. But somehow it really worked. It tasted like a zibble on the zobble and it actually really moved me. Fantastic. Great. I think you’ve got real potential and I can see you going a long way in this competition. I hope everyone picks up their phones and votes for you because we really need you to stay in. And that is how you make a song taste yellow. Well done.

            If there’s any subliminal there it’s in the delivery or it’s misdirection from the real message which we don’t see because we’re all wondering about yellow and green and all the rest of the nonsense.

          • Fair point well made, Jess!

            But I think, as David says below, it must be a bit of both. I’d be really surprised if word choice doesn’t matter at all – “clean” and “yellow” will activate different patterns of neurons firing in viewers’ brains, which may lead to different emotional responses.

          • Jessica Hamby

            It was too clean.

            If it had been so clean that would have had a completely different slant, giving approval. I really think you’re focussing on the wrong thing here.

          • Completely agree you can’t take words out of context – just don’t think it makes sense either to look only at context and ignore choice of words.

            I think how effective criticism is at demotivating votes depends on whether it chimes or jars with impressions viewers have formed already. So e.g. with that Ryan performance, words like “static” would be more effective than, say, “messy” – with the opposite true for e.g. Bratavio week 1.

            Something completely meaningless like “too yellow” would also have some effect, I agree with you. Although I’d actually argue that different colours would have slightly different effects, as I think they do in staging. Yellow, for instance, can imply cowardly – so it might conceivably have more effect for a song viewers have perceived as playing safe than taking a chance.

            Come to think of it, Cowell said Relley this week was “very pink”, picking up on the staging and styling. Who likes pink? Stereotypically, old women. So I think this was tied in to making her appear dated. I’d argue that yellow staging and “very yellow” would have pressed slightly different buttons.

          • Jessica Hamby

            I don’t know Andrew. I just don’t think that there’s a lot of insight to be gained from analysing at this level and that it leads directly to the rabbit hole.

        • EM

          Rose, you could well be onto something. Perhaps the clean comments are actually to position Honey G in a better light. As in, she’s not great or polished but she’s real and authentic, not clean and bland.

          Before anyone piles on this is all in the context of X Factor! I’m not making any grand claims about Honey G’s artistical prowess!

          • David Cook

            Surely it’s the opposite. She’s about as inauthentic as it’s possible to get. I might, just might accept it if she didn’t do the act – ie she was basically herself and then came on stage and performed rap music straight. If she could actually perform straight. But it’s this ridiculous alta ego – it’s exactly as the article in the Guardian. If she’s doing this knowingly – and it now appears that she is – and she’s complicit with TPTB in this, then she’s ridiculing rap music and culture. Sorry but I think your way off with this.

          • EM

            No need to apologise for disagreeing!

            I think you’re looking at HG through Guardian/Sofabet eyes. I’m trying to see through the eyes of the voting audience (to make some money!).

        • Rose

          Simon Cowell with no clothes on? Oh please no! There’s only so much of him I can take – that would be at least one bit too much.
          To clarify what I said, while it may have a technical music production meaning, it’s being used as a blunt instrument to bash acts with. So a potentially valid criticism is being used in an invalid way. I did say it is hardly the contestants’ fault that their songs are recorded/touched up in post production but they are (depending on whose explanation you buy) being blamed for it because that’s what the show does. It’s like when they are blamed for their song choice or costume – it very often wasn’t down to them but they get the blame to dampen their vote.
          I make no apology for discussing it here, I find it all quite intriguing and after all, that’s part of what we do here – try to decrypt the puzzle in order to make the right bets on the night.

          • kingston

            to me too clean seems to mean being technically polished but sacrificing being emotionally raw…

          • Martin

            Just to throw another two pence in re: too clean. In week two, simon described ryan’s performance as mechanical (perhaps backed up by ryan’s grey/silver staging making it seem justified) and this week Louis said he felt like ryan was going through the motions. I think the general message with ryan seems to be that although he’s here with his guitar, they’re trying to sweep that under the carpet by suggesting he’s not making any effort to be creative or, as you say – authentic, which is what you’d assume an act like his is supposed to be. ‘Too clean’ sort of feeds into that meme.

  • Martin

    There was quite a lot of focus on Matt Terry ‘letting go’ this week. Between him and Nicole i think they mentioned something along those lines four times in the opening of his VT.

  • David Cook

    Just an aside to the comments about the judges critiques above. On Saturday I didn’t get the chance to see the programme at all – it was so late I just wizzed through and watched the performances by themselves – it only takes half an hour. No VT no comments. I finally manage to watch properly on Sunday night after the results show. Everyone should try this sometime. At points I just couldn’t believe what I was hearing. It just emphasized what I often think – that sometimes there is virtually no correlation between the performance and the judges comments. Clearly the judges comments are one of the best ‘weapon’ TPTB have to direct the viewers / voters as to what they should be thinking. But what proportion of the viewers are thinking – sorry but you’re talking S***e. Are there points at which – for at least a section of viewers – the comments go from being an effective tool to being counter productive. I know this is a can of worms that’s been discussed many times before so I’m not going to go on too long – but it was interesting to watch in this way.

    • 360

      I also didn’t watch the show as constructed and this was my reaction to 5AM and Relley’s performances. I also feel the girlband’s performance, although better than last week’s, was worse in isolation than what the judges suggested.

    • plinkiplonk

      I think the judges comments can deliberately be used in both ways. As long as they sound at all plausible, they will steer public perception in that direction. However, if they are unjustly or over the top negative they can provoke a surge in support for the act in question as the public might feel they need to vote to outbalance the negative critique. The classic example of this were the early joke acts like Wagner and Edward, who would sometimes get vicious critique from Simon only to sail through.

      However, what we are now seeing more and more are unjustly POSITIVE comments, because the chosen ones are no longer head and shoulders above the rest. These cannot be easily outbalanced, but I feel they are potentially damaging for the show as a whole and contribute to the loss of viewers.

      • Jessica Hamby

        I don’t know about Jedward but I’m not sure Wagner ever “sailed through”. He was always near the bottom of the vote. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Honey G is the same.

        • Plinkiplonk

          ‘Sailing through’ in this instance meant getting voted through without a B2 appearance, even if the judges comments suggest they deserve to be eliminated…

  • David Cook

    Here’s my contribution to the debate. This is a performance that isn’t “too clean”. But how would it go down with Cowell and Co.

  • David Cook

    I’m trying to resist but Jessica’s dragged me into this with the green / yellow comment. That’s a bit like the doughnut deramp, nobody could agree on exactly what it meant other than it had to be derogatory. I do think that there’s a point to the ‘too clean’ comment and as others have suggested it’s to do with authenticity. So this is a double edged sword, it’s both what they’re saying and the way in which they’re saying it.
    Anyway here’s another take on not ‘too clean’. It doesn’t get much more authentic than this. And to think – they think Honey G’s entertainment.

  • Looks like they won’t be bouncing 4oD this week, the show is spreading the idea that they don’t want to be there and would be better off eliminated.

    https://www.thesun.co.uk/tvandshowbiz/2060977/four-of-diamonds-almost-turned-down-second-x-factor-chance-as-they-dont-trust-louis/

    • Maybe they feel that it was getting too obvious, that they are likely to be stuck with him for a few weeks anyway due to the flash vote, and (possibly) that he’s a likely B3 no matter what they do at this point.

      • Rose L

        Maybe – or is it possible that Nicole has had someone leak this story in order to get a few more votes for her boy, after last weekend’s poor treatment of him?

  • Jessica Hamby

    https://www.thesun.co.uk/tvandshowbiz/2060623/loner-honey-g-is-overwhelmed-by-x-factor-support-as-pal-reveals-shes-never-had-many-friends/

    They’re pulling out the stops for her. I wonder if she’s circling the drain. I bet it’s going to be a big production this weekend.

    • Rose L

      In the second link here, they claim Ryan came third bottom last week. Do they know something we don’t or is it a mistake? Being saved by Flash Vote doesn’t imply any position in the general vote unless I am gravely mistaken.

      • David Cook

        The Betfair articles pretty rubbish isn’t it. Ryan could indeed have polled in any of the bottom three places as he was saved by flashvote. My guess is that he was bottom. Saara hardly gained from singing last when the voting was open from the start of the show. The favoured acts were generally early in the running order last week to take advantage of that.

  • 360

    Expecting Ryan, 4oD and one of Honey G or Saara in bottom 3 this week. 4oD almost definitely to go and them to pull out all the stops to get Saara out next week.

    • Jessica Hamby

      Given the story in The Sun, 4OD is a very good call. It also allows them to let Saara shine on what needs to be a good week for them. People making cakes in a tent got nearly 15 million (with no overnights or +1s) on a weeknight. X factor is under 6 million on a Saturday night.

      • Edie M

        If they let her, Saara could put on a good theatrical Halloween performance whereas there are so many pitfalls for a girl group. I think 4oD is a good shout for elimination. They could easily do to Ryan a version of what they did to Jack Walton but with him constantly saved by the lifeline vote it seems more like they’re toying with him for their own amusement than seriously out to get him (they will eventually but with only 3 male acts he serves a minor purpose for now).

  • Jessica Hamby

    According to Oddschecker Matt Terry is currently 100/1 for the win and 5AM are 66/1 for the win at Boylesports. I’m not a member and not going to join so I can’t check if those are the odds on the site but if they are…..

    There’s probably a £20 maximum bet but even so, at those odds it’s got to be worth a go on Matt.

    It’s almost certainly an error somewhere, all the others are offering 4/6 on Matt but this one is 100/1.

    http://www.oddschecker.com/tv/x-factor/winning-act

    No wonder Ryan’s feeling a bit gloomy. He’s the only person with longer odds than that. He’s 200/1.

  • Jessica Hamby

    Labouring Honey G’s “authenticity” again.

    https://www.thesun.co.uk/tvandshowbiz/2063042/x-factors-honey-g-looks-unrecognisable-in-university-photo-as-its-revealed-shes-always-loved-rap/

    They don’t seem to get that the problem with her is that she’s rubbish. It doesn’t matter if she’s been doing it for 10 weeks or 10 years. She’s terrible. Stick with the DJing and rap with a hairbrush in your bedroom. You’re so bad that people feel embarrassed for you when they watch you perform.

    • Liam Tait

      I feel embarrassed when most of them sing to be honest. At least she makes me laugh alongside my cringing.

      • Jessica Hamby

        She doesn’t get me laughing AT ALL. She represents the worst of the X Factor in my opinion. She is the perfect symbol for the contempt the producers have not just for their audience but for the music. She’s a failure of an act on a failing show and every time she comes on I wonder why the hell I watch it. If it wasn’t for Sofabet I wouldn’t.

        • 360

          Just chiming in that I agree with this 100% now.

          I was interested to see where they’d go with her after the first audition and on paper the idea of a tubby white woman thinking she’s ‘ghetto’ and wanting to be a rapper isn’t that bad. (although it does sound a bit Little Britain yeah but no but)

          Fact is she’s neither good or so awful she’s funny. She’s just dull right now. All previous joke acts have fallen on one side or the other of that coin.

          Anyway, I’m 80% sure this will be her first week to drop into the bottom 3 unless they absolutely nobble 4 or more acts on Saturday night. Despite all the hype I don’t see her having come more than 7th-8th in the vote the last two weeks although she may have had a strong start the first week it seemed her act would be amusing.

          Wish they’d kept the ‘I am a doll’ woman. She at least was believably deluded. Photoshopping a baseball cap and mirrored sunglasses on blurry childhood pictures of Miss Honey is not convincing.

          • Allan

            Simons treatment of Honey interests me. usually the joke acts play a role which includes all the judges appearing to like them a little and Simon hating them! This year we have seen all four judges giving the joke act a standing ovation and Simon heaping praise on her ??? I wonder if TPTB are testing the theory that by playing it this way on the week that Simon finally sticks the knife in the voting public will follow???

    • David Cook

      Fleur on breakfast TV this morning. 4OD got a mention – they’re doing the same song as she did for Halloween week. Asked about the acts to watch – Matt Terry’s going to win and Honey G because she’s the act everyone wants to see apparently. Handily video clips were already lined up to be on screen as she spoke – how on earth did they manage that? I’m just amazed that they continue to flog this dead horse.

    • EM

      “Real name Anna G” on the photo caption! Classic

      • Martin

        in the absence of any decent music to promote, I guess Fleur is more than happy to peddle the show’s agenda as a full time job these days. The fact that she knows 4OD’s song choice before it’s been confirmed is hilarious. At the min, the following choices have been reported:

        Saara – Bad Romance
        Honey G – Men In Black
        Matt Terry – I Put A Spell On You
        Ryan Lawrie – Everybody (BSB)
        4OD – Thriller

  • Sagand

    It will be interesting on what they do with the running order this week. In the past in the weeks with nine performers running order told you a massive amount. The act performing second would have been in a bottom three nine out of ten years. (In the bottom two eight out of ten.) The exception being Janet Devlin an act they were trying to harm as much as possible. Whereas acts in the 8th or 9th position only would have been in the bottom three once.

    We’ll see if they open the voting line at the start again if they front load it like they did last week.

    • Stu

      5am – hmmm doing a song with iconic choreography a week after Simon says focus on the singing more than the dancing. Hopefully it’ll be more Fleur East than The Risk.

      4OD – I don’t see how Ghost will be effective with a group performing it – hardly an ET.

      Saara – she’s running the risk of looking like a GaGa wannabe – something TPTB tried to present Kitty as. It’s also a song that’d suit opening the show.

      Gifty – doing another Fifth Harmony song… it seems like Simon has jumped on a new strategy to “cross promote” heavily. Like week 1, it seems Simon is prioritising promoting his artists than doing what’s best for his acts. Maybe Gifty’s polling in the vote is a lost cause and tptb are getting one more use out of her? 😀

      Emily – Creep… is Wagner the only finalist to perform this on a live show? If so, it doesn’t bode well for Emily in regards to producer intent.

      Sam – this song choice is in keeping with her soft rock image. 1D were also given this by Simon. Most promising song choice of all the girls.

      • 360

        Total Eclipse for Sam is promising. I’m still hoping for her to become the alpha.

        Gifty singing a song nobody has heard of again. To sound like it’s her own song, or to bury her? Or just to resurrect Simon’s ‘other’ girlgroup?

        Creep for Emily suggests they might be setting the wheels in motion to engineer that Ryan/Emily B2 next week.

        Ryan I think will struggle with Backstreet Boys unless he’s given a lot of help. Giving a group song to a solo artist, especially one with a quieter/weaker voice, is a tough ask.

        Matt should be fine with Nina Simone. Might be a slight dampen as Nina’s vocal is much lower than Matt’s has been so far.

        5AM pigeonholed as dancers while 4oD given a better song than I expected this week? Are they testing the water for the groups, or trying to get both into a singoff? Or alternatively, just going with the fact 5AM have weaker vocals, and picking a song that will expose 4oD’s? Unless the blonde girl with the best voice takes lead; but that opens them up to “Blondie, you’re the main man”.

        Leaving Saara and Honey G. Given both groups, Emily, Ryan, and potentially Gifty might be exposed this week, both Overs might be safe this time round. I’m expecting Honey to hit bottom 3, but the well-loved Men In Black might be enough to lift her out if she makes a decent stab at it.

        However if she makes a mockery of it it could backfire badly. Every song she’s done so far has been either very old, or accepted as a bit of a joke, so it hasn’t mattered *so much* how she’s actually performed it.

        As for Saara, Gaga has just released and has been doing a lot of publicity and promo right now. She’s also changed direction, going country, so singing one of her old favourites might do Saara some favours this week with pop fans. Either way, I don’t see her being as clearly targeted as those I mentioned earlier in this comment. Interesting!

        • EM

          Gaga is one of those acts like Britney Spears where the acres of newsprint and pixels can somewhat overstate their musical popularity.

          For sure both have sizeable groups of hard core fans but they also leave others cold.

          The producers will have access to loads of data about this kind of thing and will surely make the song choices accordingly!

          • fused

            I agree with EM’s point that there are some acts that generate a lot of publicity and have very vocal hardcore stans that means their musical popularity is overestimated.

            But I’d say contestants performing a Lady Gaga song have something else to overcome. A lot of Lady Gaga songs don’t really “work” when someone else sings them. Britney Spears, for example, doesn’t seem to have much to do with her songs on a creative level, and there are some pop songs that could be a hit for any number of acts. After all, they often get passed around to different people before someone records and releases it.

            But Lady Gaga writes her own songs, and her image is quite specific, so it’s not going to be as easy to transfer for most contestants. Kitty Brucknell might have been an exception. No, I’m not just saying that because she reads this site, but I think she’s the closest the show has had to an act like Lady Gaga, and despite all the comparisons of Saara to Kitty, I’m not so sure Saara is really the same sort of act as Lady Gaga.

          • EM

            Good point fused – put both of our arguments together and Saara is toast!

          • Jessica Hamby

            Devil’s advocate – remember Bjork last week. That’s a much harder song to sing than Bad Romance and with all respect to Kitty, I think Saara is a more versatile performer and will have no problems singing the song. If she’s given another big production she’ll be safe.

            The problems she might have are that she’s had late slots twice in a row – she might be under the Strictly overlap, and there are a couple of other songs out there that could easily be given the “big production” treatment while she’s left with a low budget damp squib.

            I imagine Honey G will get all the help they can give her. What about 5am and 4 OD? They both have “big production” potential. Will they get a stage full of synchronised zombies or half a dozen, bored looking gum chewers throwing a beach ball to each other?

        • Jessica Hamby

          I think Total Eclipse is dated and a bit cheesy. With good staging and a good performance it should keep Sam out of b3 but it’s not doing her any long term favours. It’s not adding to her momentum.

          Backstreet Boys and Thriller also fall into that category imo. Gifty’s song is just unknown and also, if you listen to it (I posted a link further down) unmemorable.

      • Alison cassells

        I recall G4 doing creep, I think

    • Martin

      Tut tut, Fleur getting her groups mixed up!

      Gifty is effectively becoming a Fifth Harmony tribute at this point. “Ghost” seems an oddly positive choice for 4OD in that it should allow them to showcase some vocals but I await their treatment before making my mind up on that one.

      “Creep” should allow Emily to do a decent job of the song – a slightly worrying choice whenever anybody has that song, though given its message. Wagner was a totally different act to Emily, so I don’t feel it fair to compare the two. If I remember correctly, didn’t G4 do well with that song? The show was a different kettle of fish back then though.

      • David Cook

        To be fair it might have been me that got it wrong – as I switched on just as she was talking about this. Did anyone else see it. It was the bit about Matt / Honey G that was more interesting – the way it came across was that those were the only two acts really worth talking about.

  • Rose L

    Emily singing “Creep” isn’t exactly good news for her – “I’m a creep, I’m a weirdo, what the hell am I doing here, I don’t belong here”. I would have thought they’d have given that to Ryan!

    • EM

      Blooming heck that’s the song that did for Wagner. May have a different connotation when done in the John Lewis stylee but it doesn’t say good things to me.

      Gold star to whoever predicted Thriller for 5AM – stand by for pimp slot and high praise all round

    • Fudd

      How evil could the producers be? They could put her after Ryan and change all the “I/I’m” to “You/You’re”.

      But you’re a creep, you’re a weirdo
      What the hell are you doing here?
      You don’t belong here.

      A slight change to the lyrics and the whole feel of Creep could be very different.

      In relation to 5 After Midnight – one thing I’ve maintained is, in order to get Ryan into the bottom two, they need to push a male act down there with him to split the lifeline vote. Matt seems to be flying high so what other options do they have?

      The song choices are certaoinly intriguing overall.

    • Sagand

      I would guess it would be this kind of cover for Emily:

      Doesn’t require a powerful voice to do.

      • Rose L

        That’s quite a delicate, pretty version and it does seem to “go somewhere”, having a little climax towards the end which might declaw Nicole a bit. But any act singing those words would worry me a little even though I take heed of its apparent successes on other shows.

  • David Cook

    Nina Simone – ‘authentique’. But will Matt Terry be ‘too clean’ to pull it off. Whatever he sounds like I fully expect him to be described as lush shades of green – Louis – “You were like a meadow in springtime”. Certainly won’t be yellow.

  • Woofie

    Some thoughts…
    “Everybody” was supposed to have been a positive for Stereokicks but they slipped into the bottom 2 on the Sunday… American Jocks and cheerleaders… might work for Ryan bit of an uptempo number..
    Matt’s choice pushing the “sex symbol”.. fiffy shades of grey? (saw the song associated with the film on YouTube)…
    Not sure about Saara’s choice… Defining Gravity from Wicked might have been better..
    5AM Thriller no surprise there… bit of a moment for Keiran (lead) we saw in an earlier VT he had performed as a young Michael Jackson in a Thriller production. Be interesting how it goes down vocally…
    Sam’s choice uptempo rock theme…

  • I think I’ve worked out what this “Too clean” thing is all about.

    “Clean” was very much “in-fashion” in the late 90’s and early 00’s when this show first went on-air. Clean-cut, innocent, sanitised was the way to go, and it was those sort of records that sold. Indeed, from 1995/6 until the mid 2000’s the chart was largely dominated by manufactured acts or “clean” singers – your Celines, Mariahs and Whitneys. Same story with early Britney and Christina – think Sometimes or Genie In A Bottle.

    That’s all gone out the window now. Look at how many people now have wacky hairstyles, facial hair, tattoos and piercings compared to just a decade ago. “Clean” is no longer “Cool” – the people want “Rough n’ ready”.

  • David Cook

    Stefani Germanotta’s not exactly a singer by any stretch of the imagination. It’s the imagination to come up with the Lady Gaga alter ego – together with some pretty decent pop songs – that’s propelled her to super stardom.
    Saara can obviously do the song justice, but it’s the image they portray – and the subsequent comments which are going to be make or break this week. Could go either way.

    • Jessica Hamby

      Gaga is a phenomenal singer. Have you heard her stuff with Tony Bennett?

      https://youtu.be/gK2x_bnzwZU

      https://youtu.be/ZPAmDULCVrU

      Bad Romance is very distinctive and quite upbeat. If they want to keep Saara in for her entertainment value but off the winning track then it’s quite a good choice. She’s got the quality to make a great job of it and it’s perfect for a big production. No doubt the comments will tend towards the “quirky foreigner” and we may even hear Simon say “I think we’ve found your niche” or something similar to lock her into a role of novelty foreigner who can sing a bit.

      https://youtu.be/qrO4YZeyl0I

    • fused

      Lady Gaga is an excellent singer! I think sometimes people think you can either be one extreme or the other, so there’s this idea that if you do dance-pop and have a striking image you can’t also be a talented singer.

      I suppose there’s an argument that Lady Gaga doesn’t use her vocal talents in some of her songs, but that in itself isn’t always a bad tactic. I saw a video internet reviewer Lindsay Ellis did once about female popstars, and she said something like one reason pop singers with not the best voices can do well might be easier for people to sing along to that rather than a song by a vocal powerhouse. Lindsay Ellis said something along the lines of Lady Gaga “pretends like she can’t sing all that well. Smart girl.”

  • Martin

    Saara may also be going back to her SCC-French-singing, audience-riling roots with the middle eight of “Bad Romance”.

  • Jessica Hamby

    I think Gifty Louise is in trouble with that song. Don’t see how she can avoid b3. I’d never even heard of it before. No recognition factor for the audience. Easily flushed down the memory hole.

    https://youtu.be/xlkFTxnizyk

    Maybe they decided to get rid after last week’s f-bomb. Let’s fact it, they’d made all that effort to soften her image and then she went and screamed FAAARRK!!

    Who knows?

    It’s not a good choice for her anyways. From the film Hotel Transylvania but probably from the closing credits. I don’t recall it in the film.

    • Jessica Hamby

      On reflection it’s probably a combination of things. They gave her the opportunity to have a “moment” and she didn’t really take it. In fact at times she sounded a bit laboured and out of tune. She dropped the f-bomb. If she’s also not polling particularly well then perhaps they’ve decided it’s time to cut her loose. If she goes b2 I wonder who she’ll sing-off against. We don’t even know if it’s going to be a flash vote again or not.

      • Jessica Hamby

        It’ll be interesting to see the treatment of 5AM with Thriller. If the egos have got in the way again this week they could easily find themselves down there too.

        A 5AM v Gifty sing-off would be interesting……

        • Woofie

          Your right about Thriller, could go either way. For it to be fantastic for 5AM surely after last week, they have to be seen to it justice vocally. When Fleur performed it there was critique about her vocals suffering but it was done against her effort, hard work and “taking a risk” on doing the dance performance. As the boys are credible dancers and Thriller not a surprise choice for them I don’t think they will have that kudos. Certainly scope for negative criticism. It will be interesting to see how it is arranged and staged.

          • Jessica Hamby

            The song is all about the groove. The vocal is difficult to sing well but even if you do sing it well, that’s not enough. It needs a theatrical performance from the singers. It’s not one of those songs where you can just stand there and sound good.

            And yes, staging….

      • Sagand

        Cowell is using the show to cross promote. Do you think he will want it flushed down the memory hole? Or is it more likely to get a big production to make people check out the originial?

        It’s a fairly instant song (much more than the week 1 song), it’s fun, it’s both accessible and current. I think it is a positive choice.

        • Jessica Hamby

          I disagree. It suits the theme and it’ll put royalties in his pocket but I don’t think it’s an important part of the Fifth Harmony marketing strategy.

          It’s inoffensive and nice enough but no-one’s going to remember it 5 minutes after it finishes. He doesn’t give a crap about a song that was released last year and whose only chart position was #23 in Belgium.

          To be honest it sounds like a contractual obligation song, not something that anyone lavished care and sweat and creativity upon.

          • Sagand

            I tend to agree with you that there is often over analysis of motivations here. If you just simplify it to look at positives and negatives.

            Gifty is an act who has had all positives, staging, comments, VTs, named most improved by two judges, John Legend’s favourite etc. An act last week you thought polled second. (http://sofabet.com/2016/10/22/x-factor-2016-week-2-lawrie-bus/#comment-74938)

            Fifth Harmony is Simon’s act; he will want them to be associated with positives. You have put the two together and have come to the conclusion that it is a kill attempt.

            The song doesn’t have the edge to be a success in the real world, but is perfect for the X Factor (the Ben Haenow of songs).

          • Jessica Hamby

            Another way of simplifying it is to note that the song is a forgettable piece of junk and that Gifty messed up her moment and then swore, undermining their efforts to soften her image.

            We are, of course, all free to have our own opinions. Good luck with your bets.

          • Jessica Hamby

            One other point…

            I didn’t say anything about a “kill attempt”. I say I can’t see how she can avoid b3.

          • Fudd

            I have to wonder whether the show would really try to give someone a ‘moment’ from position two?

          • Sagand

            You did say “Maybe they decided to get rid”, which implies a planned attempt to have her leave the competition which to me is the same as a “kill attempt”.

            I’d would say they were five acts more likely to hit the bottom three than her and she only needs three (maybe even two).

            She was given a moment when the strictly turnover was, when the lines were open and Dermot had just told everyone to get out their app.

          • Jessica Hamby

            I stated that in my opinion she couldn’t avoid b3. I speculated (hence the word “maybe”) that a decision to cut her loose might have been taken. That’s not the same as “coming to a conclusion”.

            By all means disagree with me and put your own point of view, but try to disagree with what I actually posted.

            Fwiw I think she’s in deep doodoo this week. I’ve listened to that song 3 times today and it’s still a struggle to remember how it goes.

          • Sagand

            It I could edit it to “have come to the conclusion that it could be a kill attempt.” I would.

            It’s still ludicrous speculation based on the evidence at hand. You still haven’t explained how an act you think is consistently polling third and moved up to second is now unavoidable to finish 7th or worse.

          • Jessica Hamby

            It’s not as ludicrous as suggesting that cross-marketing a Fifth Harmony song whose only chart position was #23, in the Belgian chart, will save her.

            Have you listened to the song? If you think it’s a good song then we’re done and I suggest you go and have a lie down and listen to your Honey G LPs. If you don’t, then perhaps you can ask yourself why she’s been given a piece of crap and compare it to the song choices of other contestants.

            Perhaps you can ask yourself, are there any singers with songs more suitable and better known than the song Gifty has been assigned.

            I can think of eight. There are, including Gifty, nine singers left in the competition.

            I hope that makes sense for you.

          • EM

            Any chance we can end the personal stuff and discuss the issues in a grown up and respectful way?

            Or am I being optimistic again???? 😉

          • Fudd

            The song choice is only one of numerous factors though – the whole package is what’s key. Maybe the song doesn’t need the strongest vocal in the world but it offers the opportunity to put on a show, a performance.

            I guess a good rule of thumb is ‘can you see Fleur singing it?’ as it’s clear she was pimped to high heaven. I think I can. But a good song choice on paper can be doomed and an awful song choice on paper can be improved.

          • Martin

            I can see both points here. If we look back, the past two years have seen unreleased songs performed by Lauren Murray and Fleur East. Lauren was bottom two and nobbled by staging and Fleur was pimped to high heavens. In the past a song and dance was made over Danyl Johnson singing a Whitney album track but i don’t have a strong memory of that.
            In Gifty’s favour, they are a SYCO act and it probably will suit her. She also has weeks of producer favour previously.

            To counter that, it’s extremely obscure, isn’t a new release SYCO will be looking to push (she did that one three weeks ago) and has already performed two FH songs. Personally, I think it’s designed to make Cowell seem egotistical and give her the story of a terrible song choice but she does have the potential to own it completely if she can get the public on board. After last weeks desperate pimping, I think that may be a struggle with this particular song.

        • If he’s trying to cross-promote that is NOT the song to pick. Only the most hardcore 5H fan remembers that song. The movie is gone, the song is gone, they don’t sing it on tour.

          If anything, it’s a low point in their brief career.

          OTOH, it fits the theme very nicely.

          • Martin

            I don’t see what is being cross-promoted here? It’s a song which is over a year old, and a little-known one from a film soundtrack at that. It’s the same as Jack Walton being nobbled with a terrible version of “Bleeding Love” six years after it was released. Worse if anything. At least that song was well known.

  • Jessica Hamby

    Sometimes we treat Simon Cowell the way football managers treated Alex Ferguson. Not everything is a mind game or part of an intricate machiavellian masterplan.

    Sometimes, as the psychiatrists say, a cigar is just a cigar.

  • Regarding Creep, apparently it doesn’t have much of an XF history. On other music shows, it is considered a positive (assuming one sings it well).

    It’s generally been covered by singers who want to convey that they are “artists” who know how to sing with real emotion. You sing Creep to show that you’re not just a pretty face, but you have song interpretation chops.

    I’m not going to link them, but YT has at least 20 different versions from various international shows.

  • Jessica Hamby

    More on Honey G. To me the most interesting thing is the poll at the end.

    19% think she’s entertaining.
    68% think she’s awful

    http://metro.co.uk/2016/10/28/sharon-osbourne-reveals-the-real-reason-honey-g-is-still-on-the-x-factor-6221370/

    • 360

      “‘Who would have thought that when Honey came to audition she was going to be an Internet hit?’ Sharon admitted.”

      Well, the produers, clearly, as well as anyone with any gumption who saw that audition…

  • Jessica Hamby

    It’s often risky to predict b3 / eliminations before the show but this week I’ve been speculating a lot and decided to have a go, based mostly on song choice.

    I reckon Ryan, Sam and Gifty will go b3. Ryan will survive the flash vote. The judges will go to deadlock. Gifty will be eliminated.

    Now I’ve put my name to it, this will almost certainly not happen.

    • David Cook

      It depends if it’s still B3 or not. Given song choice Ryan still looks target for bottom of the vote. If they stick with the flashvote then he’s going to escape – if they revert to B2 then he’ll be out.
      The rest could depend very much on staging and comments. The tellymix poll is quite interesting, with virtually nothing between Sam, Gifty, Emily and 4am. I can see that could be the case in the actual vote too.

  • Plinkiplonk

    I predict we will hear absolutely nothing about the flash vote tonight and they will wait for the results tomorrow to decide what suits them best. The jukebox/frightnight incident was the straw that broke the credibility’s back, so they can really do whatever they want now, it’s not as if they need to keep up the pretence… ITV has the Voice from next year as a ‘serious’ singing show, X Factor will descend further into the farce it has become over the last few years.

    • Jessica Hamby

      If they’re going to have a flash vote they have to announce it. People have to know what they’re voting for. In fact if they’re not going to have a flash vote they should probably announce that too. Given that every week so far has been a b3 followed by a flash vote, to change it without notice would probably be valid grounds for an investigation by OFCOM and a good chance that any complaint would be upheld. Even though app voting is free (except for the data you provide – *note* whenever it isn’t obvious what the product is, YOU are the product), there is still the opportunity for paid votes by text and telephone.

  • Stu

    My early predictions are a Gifty / Saara / 4OD bottom three. Gifty’s song choice is horrendous. If she struggled in the vote with that other Fifth Harmony song, she’ll surely struggle with this. I think Saara will follow the Rachel Adedeji trajectory in all honesty: B3-B3-Safe-B3/OUT. It’ll also allow Sharon to focus all of her attention on Honey G (well she probably does anyway but she can openly do it once Honey is her last act). 4OD are likely a lost cause now but obviously I’ll wait until post-show to really judge.If 4OD give another amateurish performance for a third week in a row, I think they’ll be binned.

    The reason I think Ryan will be safe this week is because it’ll look tedious for the show to constantly have the same act benefiting from the flash vote. Ensure he is safe this week and drop the flash vote next weekend so it doesn’t look too obvious that tptb are out to get him – they gave Saara a redemption week, they may do the same for Ryan. It’s also worth noting “It’s Oh So Quiet” seemed like a hatchet-job on paper but proved otherwise. Maybe the same could be said for “Everybody”. AND one more thing – don’t the top 8 get to go on tour? Surely it is in the producers’ interests to get the last remaining male acts on the tour without having to shoehorn one of them in.

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