We had two bits of news this morning that impacted X Factor betting markets. Firstly, Honey G made it all the way from North Weezy to tabloid notoriety with her front page splash in The Sun on her drug past. Secondly, The Daily Star broke the story that the Sunday flash vote to save one of the bottom three was being ditched this weekend, for a return to the traditional bottom two singoff format.
Honey G’s continued shortening of odds in the outright came to a halt on the news. However, the story itself has some unfortunate mitigating circumstances cited. Meanwhile, the end of the Sunday lifeline vote has seen three-time winner of that device, Ryan Lawrie, become favourite in Betfair’s next elimination market. Three acts dominate this market, and they look to be the most obvious deadwood left in the competition. Sam Lavery and Saara Aalto are the other two – having both fallen into last week’s bottom three.
Of these, Saara has most to offer the competition despite her three previous singoff appearances. She’s the best vocalist and performer among them, and Simon set up a potential bounce storyline last week by saying she could turn things around after the singoff. Her song choice of ‘Enough Is Enough (No More Tears)’ has been performed twice on the show before – by Ruth Lorenzo and Sam Bailey. You might remember the latter’s week 4 pimp slot with golden tickertape ending. It suggested at the time she was the act producers would push to victory, and so it proved.
Ryan has been in trouble ever since the first of three consecutive bottom three appearances in week 2. But he managed to avoid the danger zone last week after a helpfully big production of ‘Twist and Shout’. Some keen-eyed observers suggested he hadn’t sung every lead vocal on the backing track. This time around he’s got ‘Play That Funky Music’, which in relative terms, polled averagely for Luke Friend in 2013. Ryan’s two uses for the show are that he’s a cute boy, and Emily Middlemas’s boyfriend, but that’s surely only enough for another week or so at most.
Sam Lavery’s ‘I Will Survive’ has been most recently performed on the show by Abi Alton in 2013. Again, it wasn’t a standout in terms of her polling, despite it being her best performance. However, it was a very different arrangement to the one Sam is likely to be singing. Lyrically, this seems to set Sam up to be preoccupied with survival, and runs the risk of being a little karaoke. The likeable youngster has perhaps struggled with nerves on her performances and post-song interviews. A series of earlyish running order slots, and empty sets suggest that producers haven’t pushed her hard, despite plenty of praise from the panel.
There’s a big gap behind the top three in the elimination market. The other side of it are Five After Midnight, who were given the pimp slot and plenty of positivity last week. But was it significant that this was the first week they weren’t namechecked for the final? They’ve got ‘Boogie Wonderland’, which feels like a promising enough song choice for the dancing trio.
Last week, Five After Midnight were shuffled back to fourth place in the outright market by Honey G, on the back of the latter’s best performance to date. The headline-grabbing novelty act has the N-Trance version of Bee Gees classic ‘Stayin Alive’ which is the best song choice of the lot, and promises another massive production. Despite The Sun story, I think producers will continue to go out of their way to help her.
That leaves us with outright principals Matt Terry and Emily Middlemas. Matt has got ‘Best of My Love’, which song-wise feels like it’s in danger of lacking a moment, though the capacity to use his excellent falsetto may just be that moment. Emily’s ‘Wishing On A Star’ doesn’t have a great X Factor pedigree, having put Tamera Foster and Austin Drage in the bottom two. Otherwise, I’d say the song suits her voice.
In terms of the likely bottom two this week, my pre-show guess is that Sam and Ryan have most to fear. As always, the show itself will tell us much more. Do keep your thoughts coming below.