X Factor 2016 Week 7 Review: You say Honey, we say Gee!

Jessica Hamby: “I think if you’re going to be a novelty act with any longevity people need to like you. I’m not sure many people like Honey G.” Rose L: “I started off strongly believing she was an act like any one of Sacha Baron Cohen’s personas, but I am now a bit dubious.”

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In saving Honey G on Sunday, the judges took the positive spin that she had shown fighting spirit. Graceless and aggressive were other ways to describe her fist-pumping behaviour as poor, long-suffering Ryan accepted his fate with grace and equanimity. It unwisely undermined her previous character references, Louis once having called her “one of the nicest contestants”.

So let’s take stock. Where are we with Honey G? To what extent was she deramped this week, and to what end? And what’s the endgame?

We have to start by giving kudos to producers. We were dismissive when they introduced Honey in the coveted first audition show pimp slot, writing that the joke “bored us after 6-7 seconds, let alone the 6-7 weeks required from a novelty with longevity”. Yet here we are, going into week 8. (We console ourselves by having seen the potential of Saara Aalto in the same article. It’s curious to think that one of the final five would have missed out had Ivy-Grace Paredes got her US visa; the show presented Honey as the beneficiary of Ivy’s bureaucratic troubles, but we reckon she was always going to be wildcarded so it must have been Saara who got the reprieve).

By the time we did our pre-lives 1-12 prediction, we’d come around to Honey sufficiently to slate her for the traditional sixth-placed novelty act finishing position. After week 4, we made the case that producers were gunning for the final with her, and weighed up whether the public would play ball.

The internet memes such as Mummy G and Granny G continued into week 5. They didn’t make an appearance in week 6, but that didn’t matter as Honey was in the pimp slot with a massive 90s take on the Bee Gees’ ‘Stayin Alive’. The judges had been completely positive about her huge productions up to this point.

That changed in week 7, when we had neither internet memes nor pimp slot. Still, a huge amount of effort had gone into her presentation. The VT was a fun continuation of establishing her persona, as she bantered with a black cab driver who appeared to have wandered off the set of Mary Poppins – “H to the O to the Chim chim cher-ee!”

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The performance started with a specially made video of Honey G getting the tube to Wembley Park, which brilliantly segued to the stage, as the tube carriage arrived on the backdrop, and the doors opened. Rewatching the production, there’s plenty that’s great about it. One red flag about the performance was the amount of early distracting spotlights not focused on her.

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There was a big audience reaction and another four-judge standing ovation, though it felt slightly toned down from previous weeks. Our ears pricked when both Louis and Sharon pleaded for votes, which suggested producers knew she might be in danger. Which made Nicole’s parting critique that “towards the end I wondered if I’m starting to see the same thing week after week” all the more surprising. It was genuinely damaging, and went unchallenged by the other judges. If Nicole had slipped it in without really meaning to, the others didn’t seem to mind.

Does this suggest producers were reconciled to a possible bottom two appearance sooner rather than later, and perhaps happy for it to happen on a week when her most likely singoff rival was wounded puppy Ryan Lawrie? That’s our best guess.

The plot thickened overnight on Saturday with the story in the Daily Star that Honey G had got most phone votes the week before. The Star used to be reliable in its leaks, and they usually came to light when someone producers didn’t want to win was doing too well. But in the app era, they got the extent of Ben Haenow’s semi-final lead wrong, and their suggestion that Anton Stephans won the first phone vote in 2015 turned out to be completely off. The point of the story may have just been to feed the narrative that it’s an “open race” that producers have been desperate to push over the last few weeks.

As it was, Honey G did end up in the bottom two on Sunday. The “she might win!” narrative didn’t last long, then. Stripped of the big production, the singoff made for through-the-fingers viewing, as Honey went for a detour around the judges’ panel and cosied up to Simon. Her attempt to engage the audience with “When I say Save, you say Me!” unsurprisingly fell a little flat.

But it’s the ill-advised fist-pumping that’s made us revisit our longstanding assumptions about Honey G and her relationship to Anna Georgette Gilford, which we’ve previously compared to that of Ali G and Sacha Baron Cohen. In his exit interviews on Lorraine and the like, Ryan offered a similar comparison – Leigh Francis’s comic character Keith Lemon. He went on to say, “The accent changes. Sometimes she’ll be really posh, other times she’ll be doing the street talk. I think she’s really smart and she knows what she’s doing and it’s working really well.”

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Sacha Baron Cohen and Leigh Francis are, of course, fully in on the joke of their creations, and we’ve always assumed that Anna must be, too. The periodic tabloid “revelations” that Honey has been “exposed” as a middle-class recruitment consultant have always been a head-scratcher, given that her first audition features Cowell asking “and what’s your real name”, to which Honey replies, with what looks like a knowing smile, “Anna Georgette Gilford”. We’ve been assuming she interacts with the production team as Anna, and that they have been in cahoots in plotting her character’s progress through the show.

However, if producers and Anna have been having a weekly off-camera chuckle about Honey’s good run, we would have expected more composure during the singoff – she didn’t look to have been mentally prepared for it. Which got us wondering, is it conceivable that she’s actually Honey G all the time, even with production staff? Surely not – and if so, they’d better have a good psychologist on staff. Let’s hope it was simply that Anna got caught up in the super-charged atmosphere of the singoff and misjudged how the character of Honey should be reacting to the judges saving her.

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Finally, where to go from here? Now that they can’t conceivably talk up her chances of winning – something that Simon acknowledged on Xtra Factor soon after his singoff decision – do they need her competing in the final any more? It’s worth reminding ourselves that she could still perform there as a guest, even if going out beforehand.

It’s also worth bearing in mind that Anna has given media interviews detailing a difficult personal past. Will producers be able to resist a valedictory “how Anna become Honey” VT? Or will they prefer to try to preserve the enigma they’ve been presenting her as right until the bitter end? Either way, there’s probably another week or two of controversy to be wrung out of her.

Who’d have thought Honey G would tie us in so many knots? Your thoughts are appreciated.

Dermot’s Fried Chicken

Piresistable: “I’m wary of making this point, but I got the sense that the show was emphasising that these [5AM] were black guys… Dermot mentioning the fried chicken at the end set an alarm bell ringing for me.”
Alan: “You’re suggesting that the producers sat in a meeting and decided to tell Dermot to mention ‘fried chicken’ as a deramp and that he played along with it?”
Piresistable: “I don’t know, when I hear fried chicken I think of Fuzzy Zoeller’s comments about Tiger Woods after the 1997 Masters.”

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Funnily enough, we also thought of Fuzzy Zoeller when Dermot’s post-song question referenced the fried chicken in 5AM’s VT. (Masters champions get to choose the following year’s menu; Zoeller controversially referred to new champion Woods with the loaded epithet “boy”, then hoped he wouldn’t have to eat “fried chicken or collard greens or whatever the hell they serve”.)

We won’t be adding the Fried Chicken Deramp to our Big Book Of X Factor Tactics, though, much as it would amuse us to do so. It’s a theory we’re happy to dismiss after just a moment’s consideration. But we do think it was worth that moment’s consideration. And this seems like a good opportunity to step back and consider whether and how we can identify when the rabbit hole beckons.

We’re sure that, like B F Skinner’s pigeons, we at Sofabet very often mistakenly perceive significance in something random or meaningless. The purpose of considering small details, like fried chicken, is that you can profit from being the earliest to spot weak signals. But as weak signals are, by definition, hard to distinguish from noise, some lapses into tinfoil hattery are an unavoidable hazard.

Ultimately, those who accuse us of being conspiracy theorists miss a vital point: unlike debates about shape-shifting Illuminati lizards, the theories we entertain here bump up against the weekly sanity check of the public vote. That doesn’t prove or disprove particular theories, of course – you can be right by accident – but, in the long term, your bank balance tells you if you’ve become detached from reality.

Why do we think Dermot’s Fried Chicken merited at least a moment’s consideration? Two reasons. First of all, we definitely believe that Dermot’s post-song questions are sometimes precision-engineered to subtly reinforce particular narratives – and Dermot is consummately professional and always on-message, hence why he’s known in these parts as “the silent assassin”.

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Second, we believe the show is conscious of when it’s portraying acts in ways that Middle England will feel either comfortable with or challenged by. A couple of examples: when they wanted to give Gifty a shot at a moment, they replaced her crop with a blonde wig; and “Zara” from “abroad”, tapping into lazy xenophobia, wouldn’t have happened if the show had been invested in Saara early on.

So, yes, we can imagine different circumstances in which Dermot’s Fried Chicken might look significant. But it’s all about context, and nothing else in 5AM’s treatment suggests any desire to reinforce othering cultural stereotypes. If it was scripted with any intention, we’re sure it was positive – to remind viewers of the family warmth of the VT. More likely it was simply ad-libbed without any ulterior motive.

Another one of Dermot’s questions also prompted some debate in the comments: some felt that when he asked Saara if she could remember her first audition, he was trying to trip her up. Again, our view is there’s nothing there – the simplest explanation suffices, that this was nothing more than a convenient segue into the pre-ad break film calling for auditionees for 2017.

But we may be wrong, and we love that the Sofabet comments section always entertains such speculation respectfully and disagreements are polite. On which point, we’re now getting to the stage of the series where emotional investment can lead to more tetchiness, groupthink and confirmation bias, so please consider this our annual plea to maintain the friendly, open-minded atmosphere that recognises our mutual interests in discerning signals from noise.

Homesick Saara

DGiles: “The VT was neither motivating or demotivating, as everyone gets she’s Finnish now and the focus was on missing her family (which is understandable) NOT missing Finland as a country – which would have been bad.” Sindi: “I think you’re right about Saara’s VT. It could well be seen as merely symphatetic.” 

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Saara’s VT this week showed her speaking foreign with her family, back home in abroad, as elegiac music swelled in the background. We wrote in our quick reaction post that it was clearly intended to demotivate votes, and it may be worth spelling out why we thought that.

In general, there are helpful and unhelpful ways to emphasise a foreign act’s foreignness. Brexit notwithstanding, we reckon Middle England reacts with open arms to a message of “I know I’m not from here, but I love your country and I want to integrate”. See, for example, Saara’s week 4 VT of embracing Hallowe’en, or week 6 attempts at regional accents with radio presenters.

Conversely, it’s less helpful to portray a foreign act as clinging to home comforts – the embassy VT has become a running joke here since Andrea Faustini’s Italian embassy visit in 2014 coincided with his first singoff appearance. Of course, we can all sympathise with Saara missing her family – but the sheer amount of subtitled Finnish in this VT was enough to raise a red flag for us.

But there’s a bigger factor. The core message of the VT was: she’s homesick. We’re not suggesting any viewers consciously thought they’d do Saara a favour by not voting for her so she can get back home quicker. The point is that the VT established no natural, subconscious pathway from sympathy to motivation to vote. “Poor Saara misses her family – I’ll vote for her” isn’t a natural thought progression. Contrast week 6’s VT, where it was perfectly natural to think “Saara loves being in Britain – I’ll vote for her.”

In that sense, the homesick VT is psychologically similar to the VT that suggests an act’s X Factor journey has come to a natural end, or that they have already achieved some redemption in their personal life – and, indeed, Saara’s VT also featured her talking about her “long journey” paying off. It encourages you to feel warm and sympathetic towards the act, but doesn’t provide a pathway for that emotional response to resolve into a desire to vote.

Still, it wasn’t the most unhelpful VT they could have given Saara: the Finnish Ambassador still hasn’t whipped out the Ferrero Rocher for Saara and her lesbian fiancee, who is back in the news this week. Perhaps the invite will come soon.

Appy days

Woofie: “I think the app with the Facebook/Twitter identity logins the producers will have significant data on the voting patterns… Wouldn’t surprise me they if employ statisticians/ research assistants using some sophisticated computer software analysis tools.”

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We’d be amazed if producers weren’t doing everything they could to mine the data they can access via the app – after all, the potential value of the data is the only reason they’ll have been willing to give up phone vote revenue by giving away free app votes.

We’d be interested to hear from commenters with data analytics experience just how much producers can do with the app. For example, when you install it, you have to agree to give it access to the audio on your phone – does that mean they can correlate an act’s fan base with what kind of real-world music they like to listen to, to help with choosing helpful or unhelpful songs?

We do have the impression that producers have got to grips with the app data more this year. It’s been a consistent theme of the Sofabet comments to feel that producers haven’t yet fully shown their hand, and we also haven’t had any really crude hatchet jobs – mostly they’ve just kept acts in their lanes, and that seems to have given them results they’ve anticipated and been happy with.

Until this week, that is. Honey G’s singoff appearance was the first time we got the impression they may have made a mis-step. With yet another reference to the vote being close at the bottom, it looks like their superior understanding of voting patterns from the app is somewhat counterbalanced by the app’s tendency to reduce margins for error as people split their free votes.

Let us know your thoughts ahead of the weekend’s ‘Louis Loves’ themed quarter final.

Photos via ©ITV / @ThePixelFactor

191 comments to X Factor 2016 Week 7 Review: You say Honey, we say Gee!

  • From this article I would be thinking of a nuking of Saara next week. I doubt that would happen but Saara will inevitably and naturally begin falling in the bottom 2. I suspect a Semi exit for her and (probably wishful thinking) Honey going this week. Also Emily is now 3rd in betting, next to 5AM above and Saara below. The fact that the embassy visit has not happened yet could either mean they are saving it in case she becomes a threat or are happy to keep her as long as she does not win. Saara has had loads of end of journey VT’s and keep in mind she avoided the B2. I suspect she was 4th, narrowly avoiding B2.

    For a pre show ranking,

    Safe: Matt is the only one fully safe.
    Middle: Emily, 5AM: both will probably be safe except a nuking but I expect to see 5AM there next week, I think Emily needs to be uptempo to join Matt in the safe column
    Possibly b2: Saara, Honey G: Saara could well be safe but history of this series makes me doubt it a bit. For Honey G after Sunday the family friendly vibe that she gave was gone, she probably won’t be saved against anyone but if she did I can’t see her ever escaping the B2 again.

    Sorry for a 5 hour post.

  • EM

    Great read as always. One question jumps to my mind

    If they wanted Honey G around longer and they know she’s struggling for votes (which would be evidenced by the vote plea from judges) why would they allow the staging to be so poor? The distracting lighting is a classic sign as is the distracting backing and graffiti is another effect which has often had bad results. Also if Nicole’s samey line was sanctioned as you credibly suggest.

    To me something in all of that doesn’t add up. Was she flying in the vote and they got complacent? Were they deliberately starting the deflation to get her out or is she now collateral and being dampened to get others through.

    On app analytics my experience is you can often have too much information, the volume is large it’s overwhelming. Sometimes here we all (me included) think X Factor is just an excercise in getting the finishing order and winner they desire but remember it’s a tv show. So as well as voting information with some social and demographic info and voting patterns and trends they’ll be after commercial information they can sell.

    Some of that may be used to see which acts appeal most to a music buying person but also to create ad and sponsorship opportunities.

    As for where Honey G ends and Anna G starts I have no idea but I do think it’s unusual that she appears to have no friends or colleagues to visit in her VTs and I can’t recall hearing too much dirt dished on her by people from her past.

    • Henry VIII

      EM I thought they clipped Honey’s wings a bit on Saturday so they could boost her with the right timing to get her into the final.

      But a sane man has to accept that if he’s the only one who believes something the chances are that he’s wrong.

      • EM

        What baffling with Honey is she’s hasn’t had a story arc or a journey at all. All that they have presented to us is the schtick – mrs average white woman who raps and thinks she’s can be a global superstar.

        There’s been no battles to win acceptance from judges, friends, peers, public. No fight to find the right songs or hit the “perfect” performance.

        She hasn’t been on any kind of journey at all. Almost like she arrived fully formed.

        There was a week when it looked like they let the mask slip a little and show the person beneath but it was the briefest of glimpses.

        If it is a persona contrived for the sake of the show one would have thought they’d build a story line to develop and keep it interesting.

        • Martin

          It is a bit like Louisa last year in that she had no remarkable back story, no journey at all apart from being told how marvellous she was each week. It’s almost as if they’re chanelling that,but with a novelty act. The signs were there this year with Honey G, how blind we were!

          I jest – I got the sense last year that they didn’t give Louisa any mega journey simply because they didn’t need to – she was getting the votes and so there was no requirement for a massive sob story. They’ve got material up their sleeve to use for Honey G, but they’ve chosen not to let us see “the real her”. With it being fair to now assume that Honey G wasn’t particularly flying in the week 6 vote, the show chose not to give her an almighty push with a massive production and a VT which allowed us to get to know more about her.

  • Woofie

    App voting and Facebook/Twitter identity credentials means they have the voting data to know what works and does not work.

    I am not sure but we need to check the privacy statement from the app as users may have given them permission to access their user profile data from Facebook or Twitter. If this is the case that would mean for most people they have given them their gender, age, and possibly location information.

    They may only have the unique user identity which means they know how each app user voted, that is still quite powerful data but if they had access to user profiling data imagine the possibilities.

    • From Google Play Store:

      Version 11.1.939 can access:
      Identity
      find accounts on the device
      Contacts
      find accounts on the device
      Location
      approximate location (network-based)
      Photos / Media / Files
      read the contents of your USB storage
      modify or delete the contents of your USB storage
      Storage
      read the contents of your USB storage
      modify or delete the contents of your USB storage
      Other
      receive data from Internet
      view network connections
      full network access
      prevent device from sleeping

      • Woofie

        Andrew that is what the app has access to on your phone. Because it uses your Facebook or Twitter account to log on that it is likely where they get any data from.

        I just checked the apps privacy policy it collects “your name, gender, email, address and usernames.” Probably from your Facebook and Twitter. It states the purpose is for personalising the app experience and for commercial reasons. ITV’s privacy policy applies for sharing any data with ITV. Not an expert but providing they don’t use the data to personally identify a person I don’t think they are in beach of the policy statement. I think they can share data for analysis e.g. How many males voted for Honey G? Not did Daniel Gould use his 5 free votes for Honey G?… It does not state it is used for that purpose. I guess if wanted we could ask them and they would need to clarify it.

  • Dana

    Will be interesting to see if Emily’s vote holds up. It’s around about now that the Janet Devlin/Diana Vickers types start to fall into the danger zone. Plus she has been ill for about 3 weeks with no sign of getting better and 2 songs to learn. I thought the fact she got the pimp slot again last week instead of Matt (who was set up as the star of the night) suggested she wasn’t doing too well in the vote.

    I’m not sure the show can get much more out of Honey G. She has served her purpose imo. Dragging her through another round via a singoff save probably isn’t going to boost the ratings and saving her against one of the other 4 would probably just leave a bad taste in the mouth going into the finals.

    Can’t see beyond a Matt/5am final 2 at this stage. Emily can no longer “wow” and Simon probably doesn’t want Saara anywhere near the final.

  • Poker Coach

    From statistical data the results they get are most likely very simple.

    How solid is the fanbase? How many people constantly change their voting? How would possible vote transfer work.

    Of course theoretically it is possible to use more advanced tools like principal component analysis to explain things.

    “PCA is mostly used as a tool in exploratory data analysis and for making predictive models.” PCA would help to understand what kind of voter groups there are, but how to use that data to better execute liveshow manipulation is quite far fetched. What they could do is to do some kind of bayesian analysis.

    That means that they test if subtle negative thing can effect steady fanbase. If yes, they can try it bigger. Also they can do this in reverse. From statistics they can see when somebodys fanbase has been reduced. Then they can carefully watch the show and try to locate the cause and redo it.

    Manipulation as itself is quite compex thing as is also data analysis. To succesfully combine these both in a level which goes beyond simple statistical analysis is a thing I highly doubt is happening.

    The production of x-factor all in all is a massive amount of work. The producers have so much more things to worry about that most likely they dont go into very advanced maths to assist in manipulation. Sofabet readers have most likely more time to speculate and analyze than the producers actually do.

  • Poker Coach

    I have spend tens of thousands to advertise in Facebook and in Google.

    Where the value lies is that they could sell targeted ads inside the app. If they know that the user likes to google weight loss products (Arent most of the brits overweight), the ads placement location will radically increase in the value.

    The more you know, the better you can target the ads and therefore you can charge more.

  • Henry VIII

    I’ve always thought Honey G is Honey G with the production staff and with her main social life and is Anna with her family and certain old friends.

    It’s not that rare for middle class white young people to speak Received Pronunciation at work and then slip into a London-Afro-Caribbean patois in the evenings with their friends. It’s not deceptive, it’s just a lifestyle choice (albeit a bit odd). They like the culture – less neurosis, the music etc.

    With Honey G I think it’s probable that she wasn’t happy as Anna and therefore created a different persona for herself.

    Anna and Sacha B Cohen have remarkably similar backgrounds and both were into rap culture as kids. Ali G of course is a mockery, something Cohen was embarrassed about himself and never agreed to do an interview as himself, only as Ali G during this period so as not to get asked awkward questions. Honey G must see the funny side of it and must realise that that’s the reason for her fame. But deep down she’d probably have preferred to have had success as a serious rapper, which of course is deluded.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2453613/Why-middle-class-children-speaking-Jamaican-patois-A-father-11-year-old-girl-laments-baffling-trend.html

  • GsP

    I felt the clear impression on Saturday was that they wanted a Saara v Ryan bottom two, preferably with Ryan bottom.

    Even with the best will in the world Saara will not be in the top 3 this weekend, so that would have allowed them a ‘controversial’ Honey G save over her on basis of her repeated appearance in the sing-off.

    With Honey G (inadvertently in my view) slipping in, the question is can they justify a second Honey G save? Possibly, but it will require nuking Saara so she comes bottom, and eliminating her on deadlock, so it’s the public’s ‘fault’.

    But then, what’s the point if she’s going to go in the semis anyway?

    I’ve often thought the QF was a good time to push a struggling favourite down into the B2 to give them a bounce in the semis. Could they manoeuvre 5AM down there, and then make sure they bounce easily into the top 2 to make the final?

    I thought we’d learn more last weekend. I genuinely think they like Saara and so didn’t want a full stitch-up, hence a completely neutral non-moticational VT and comments, but perhaps people are swinging behind her more than expected?

    For me, Saara and Honey G go in the next two weeks. The order doesn’t really matter, but as a story arc it would, now that Honey G has a sing off appearance, make more sense to me to have Saara complete her journey in the semis, rather than being the victim of a horrible ratings grab by being chucked under a bus to save Honey G a second time for one more week.

    • Sindi

      I would suppose the favourite who’s struggling the most is Emily. Else I pretty much agree. Though I’d love to see Saara in the finals it’s clear that if the producers get behind her it’s because they’ve changed their minds.

    • DGiles

      I think Emily is the key this week.
      If we assume Matt and 5AM are certs for the final, then I think they need another vocally sound performer in the final, as 5AM simply aren’t.

      Emily has been very poor the last couple of weeks (kind of indirectly referenced on Sunday by Simon, who without prompt said he was worried for her after rewatching the performances). She could easily be swapped for Saara, who will perform well and raise the bar in the final, without threatening Matt as a foreign girl. If she performs well this week, she’ll be in the final. If not, she may lose the favouritism.

      For this reason I also don’t expect them to go all guns blazing negative on Saara this week, so they can keep their options open in the Semis. Honey G has served her purpose in the competition now and they don’t really need her beyond this week IMO. No one has really bounced this year (apart from Saara) and I don’t see this changing for Honey G.

  • Woofie

    I think they were confident that the 5AM would not fall into the B2 after last week’s treatment. I think they would want this group to reach the final without a B2 appearance, if possible. I don’t think Simon just wants to drag this group to the final but for the public to get behind the group.

    5AM come with risk (and maybe doubt). Where this group ends up will be down to how well the group works with the production team, and how much confidence the producers have in their abilities to deliver (dependability), and, of course, how much the public can be motivated to vote for the group. I think, at this stage having avoided the B2/3, the vibes are positive but things can turn very easily over the course of the week.

  • Alan

    Yes I think Honey and Saara go the next two weeks. The only way I can see Saara going first is to avoid her singing off against 5AM as she would surely out-sing them. If they think they can get Emily below 5AM they will probably try and do that in which case it won’t matter who goes first.

  • PolarNight

    Regarding Finnish embassy visit Saara’s blessing is that 99th Finnish independence day is 6th of December – The week of the finals. Thus if she gets embassy VT it will most likely to happen at the finals – if she survives that long.

    The show could choose to handle this in a positive way. They could e.g. highlight Finnish ‘sisu’ that cannot be directly translated but means ‘never giving up’, ‘persistence’ and other similar things. One example that could be used comes from WW2 where tiny Finland fought to keep its independence against mighty Soviet Union and succeeded.

    Check e.g. this link regarding ‘sisu’ and WW2:
    http://www.businessinsider.com.au/finnish-word-sisu-is-key-to-success-2014-6

    • Chris Bellis

      Just a point – Finland fought bravely against the USSR and then formed an alliance with Nazi Germany for most of WW2. After the war Finland had to cede a large proportion of its land to Russia and had to pay war reparations. Perhaps best not to tell the average X- Factor voter that “plucky Finland” picked the wrong side in the war. Today the far right “True Finn” party is very strong there. The presentation of Finland as having a sort of egalitarian Scandi style culture is just plain wrong. For example there are almost as many registered firearms as the population, and there is a history of oppression of minorities. Even some of the metal bands are linked with the far right. I would give Saara a Tara Turunen song and explain how the latter got kicked out of Nightwish if I wanted to de-ramp Saara.

      • Sindi

        What on earth is this? That is a twisted image you are giving. Are you trolling?

        • HL

          Erm….. I’d like to ask Sofabet team or Chris Bellis himself to delete that post. It has nothing to do with the XF UK and not much to do with the facts either. Really. Please.

          • It’s perhaps an overly negative view of Finland but there’s no reason to censor it. Besides, giving her a Jari Sillanpää song would be the best deramp, innit.

          • HL

            Well, maybe you feel there is no need for fact checking in this post-fact world, but I think there is. There was something wrong with _all_ the claims made by Chris, but I’ll tackle just two easy ones about percentages:

            1) 12% of Finns own firearms. These are mostly rifles and shotguns registered for hunting; Finland is the most forested country in Europe as you might know. The numbers are similar to other forest-clad countries. There is no more gun violence in Finland than in Belgium or Canada or such places, and ten times less than in the US.

            2) The Finns Party is not very strong, it is nowadays polling around 10%. It is not far right either, I’d say, compared to Mr. Trump they are more like socialists… Yes, it is a populist party with focus on tightening immigration policy, but fiscally they are left-centre (strong support for the Nordic welfare state) and socially conservative (oppose same-sex marriage etc). Their main support has come from blue-collar workers disappointed with the traditional parties, especially the Social Democratic Party. Now the voters are disappointed with the Finns Party for a change.

            And now back to the XF UK, I hope.

      • Chris this is irrelevant, Finland has never been a “baddie” in the victors’ write up of the war. When Germany and USSR were buddies (Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact) the USSR launched a massive attack against Finland. Nobody helped even though Finland asked for help from the UK and Sweden. Eventually Germany and USSR went to war as well so the Soviets were fighting both. Finland fighting USSR was never anything to do with Germany.

    • Jessica Hamby

      Why can’t the British let WW2 go? If our “finest hour” was more than 70 years ago then it’s about time we found another one. Move on for f**k’s sake. The rest of Europe thinks the way we go on about it is ridiculous, and they’re right. It is.

  • Spiidey

    One other thing on Saara’s VT that I’d forgotten until the still was posted on this article.

    “We hope the whole of Great Britain votes for you”.

    So no UK. Way to go to subliminally try and exclude Northern Ireland (and Republic, can they vote or do they just get the show broadcast live on one of their terrestrial channels)?

    • PolarNight

      In VT the grandparents used words ‘koko Britannia’ == ‘whole of Britain’ but it was translated to ‘whole of Great Britain’.

      In Finland the UK is most of the time called as ‘Iso-Britannia’ which directly translates to ‘Great Britain’ (also ‘Britannia’ == ‘Britain’ and even ‘Englanti’ == ‘England’ are often used as synonyms of the whole UK). Finns pretty much never use word ‘Yhdistynyt kuningaskunta’ which directly translates to ‘United Kingdom’.

      • Spiidey

        That’s interesting, so the producers haven’t done the translation incorrectly if it’s done strictly by the book.

        However, my point still stands (please correct me if I’m wrong) as, if Britannia can be used as a synonym for the whole of the UK, the producers could have translated their grandparents words as “we hope the whole of the UK votes for you” and not deliberately excluded Northern Ireland?

        Still at least they didn’t go as far as translating it to “We hope the whole of England votes for you” and cut off the Scottish and Welsh support completely!

        • HL

          Yes, the producers should have translated “Britannia” to “the UK”. There was a zero probability for the grandparents to use the direct translation to “the UK” in spoken language when meaning the whole country including Northern Ireland. For example Google Translate offers only “Iso-Britannia” and “Britannia” if you try to find a Finnish translation to “the UK”. The Wikipedia entry for the UK in Finnish tells the official translation in the beginning and then uses “Britannia” for the rest of the article. These are not high-quality sources, but I think we all got the idea.

        • Phil

          Disappearing down a rabbit hole with that one I think…

        • Dendrite

          PolarNight is correct about Finns using the terms England, Great Britain and the United Kingdom synonymously (the last-mentioned being very rare indeed). However, Saara’s grandfather got the nuances just right by talking about “Britannia”, which really should have been translated simply as Britain (which is the colloquial political term for the state of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland (or nowadays just Northern Ireland)). It was the translator that, for whatever reason, added the unnecessary extra adjective that geographically confined his encouragement to vote just to the main island.

          I actually did notice the translation discrepancy already while watching the live broadcast, but I suspect the change was too subtle for the majority of Finns even to register.

          • Spiidey

            It might have been too subtle for the majority of Finns to notice but the deliberate exclusion of Northern Ireland won’t have gone unnoticed in Northern Ireland.

            It’s not a major point as they’ve excluded the smallest country within the UK, I’m not saying they’ve lost all votes from NI as not everyone would have picked up on that and/or decided not to vote, but it may have put off some floating voters in NI who may have thought about voting for Saara but decided not to as she (well more exactly her grandparents but their her family) can’t even get her geography right in the country she wants to vote for her and adopt her for the win.

          • 360

            With respect, as someone who lived in NI for a number of years, I’m not sure I can agree with that. The family members I have and the people I knew in NI are less concerned with the discrepancy between ‘UK’ and ‘Great Britain’ because the divide is between ‘British’ and ‘Irish’ for the most part, with a smaller proportion of people identifying as ‘Northern Irish’ exclusively.

            ‘Britain’ and ‘British’ are often considered to be ways to include Northern Irish people of that particular disposition, instead of just plumping right for ‘England/English’ which a lot of international commentators and publications sometimes fall into using.

            I would even go as far as to say some people dislike the use of ‘…& Northern Ireland’ because it explicitly marks out Northern Ireland as something extra, standing on its own, not quite ‘in the group’.

            The fact that Saara explicitly met a Northern Irish fan in a VT a few weeks ago stands out to me much more to be honest because so often (especially) English people and media seem to conveniently forget that NI exists, or (worse!) claim that all of Ireland “belongs to us, doesn’t it?” -_-

          • Agree with 360. I think the whole debate is immaterial. It’s a minor translation quibble, not an attempt to dissuade Ireland(!) from voting for her…

            “Finns pretty much never use word ‘Yhdistynyt kuningaskunta’” – funny that. Sure the second word isn’t Finnish for “Simon Cowell”?

          • Dendrite

            The truth probably lies somewhere in between. I remember thinking “oh dear” when I saw that “whole of Great Britain” line in the subtitles, thinking that now her grandparents had really stepped into it – and was surprised to find that they (it was the grandmother) actually had not.

            Translating is all about getting nuances right, and the difference between “Britain” and “Great Britain” should be obvious for someone living in the isles (for a Finn, probably not so much). So, it may, indeed, have been yet another dirty little trick from the arsenal of the production team – but I do not think its significance should be overplayed, either.

          • George

            I think this is one of the cases where way too much is being read into it. Britain is often used synonymously with the UK even sometimes in English. And – certainly unionists would not be offended by being grouped in with Britain and nationalists would not mind being separated!

            Funnily enough, I have a close friend who’s Northern Irish and a huge Saara supporter and he didn’t even notice.

            Besides, Northern Ireland is less than 3% of the population. Producers are sneaky but they would not go to that much effort to isolate such a small portion of a vote base. And when you factor in how many would actually care the number of votes affected is probably close to 0.

      • Scott

        As as chippy Scot who is permanently infuriated whenever a celebrity goes on about their “great fans in England” on a UK visit, I have to admit to not being aware of the difference between Britain and the UK until the last few years. It’s distinctly possible people on the production team may be the same, especially given the prominent use of Britain over the UK in our culture – Good Morning Britain, for example. So I wouldn’t read too much into this one, though it is a good spot.

        And don’t even get me started on Holland/Netherlands. 🙂

  • Dana

    Emily tweeting in the middle of the night about how very unwell she is (still) and how she can’t sleep. I think her voice is at breaking point- not looking too good for her.

  • In week 1 I wrote:
    “I think Honey G is real. Delusional, but real. If she were a parody act like Leslie Hall or Kurupt FM […] she’d be more competent. She reminds me more of BGT’s DJ Talent for obvious reasons.”

    In week 5 I wrote:
    “She’s a nutjob. […] The show is playing to [her], and encouraging the nation to, and it won’t be to her ultimate benefit – it just makes her more deluded.”

    I stand by this. The LinkedIn page and the fact she’s a white-collar professional doesn’t mean Honey G is a knowing comedy act or that she isn’t deluded. It is the real deal for her. Don’t get me wrong, I do think she is Anna too, in that she is able to switch and she knows there’s a boundary between the two – what I mean is that the difference between Anna and Honey G is mainly cosmetic. Her Honey G persona has never been a joke, she takes it seriously and thinks she’s good (insofar as she thinks about what she’s doing at all – I see Honey G more as a fugue persona) and thus she has never really been in on the joke. That much has been clear to me from the start – she’s no Leigh Francis or Simon Brodkin, she doesn’t have the insight or EQ, she’s merely the type of “eccentric auditionee” they used to reserve for the interval act in the final. She should never have been put through, and yes, she likely needs psychological help, but when has TXF ever cared about anything like that? The whole thing is a massive ego trip and she probably thinks she’s going to win and will have a meltdown when she doesn’t – and even more of one if and when she ever develops enough insight to realise she’s the butt of the joke. As ever with TXF it’s massively irresponsible. Just because her persona is brash and full of braggadocio doesn’t mean she’s not vulnerable.

    • 360

      I agree with this. Christ I feel a little worried about her.

      Did you see her storming down to the judges’ desk at the end of the show last week before producers hastily cut to credits??

    • David Cook

      You might well be right. The reason I’ve never thought she was real is simply because I’ve always assumed that there must have been some form of psychological assessment carried out before they allowed her to progress. We know that most other reality TV programmes do this. Certainly for the Apprentice this is part of the interview process as this has been mentioned by a number of people who have taken part. On Big Brother and IACGMOOH we have heard of people who haven’t made it through on this basis. I find it hard to believe that XF is any different? You would have thought with Anna / Honey they would have been particularly diligent in this respect. If they were planning to include her as a novelty act then surely they would ensure that she was aware that she was progressing on this basis? They couldn’t have allowed her to take part if there was any indication at all that she was in any way deluded or perhaps suffering from mental health problems. We know that the programme makers have a duty of care towards those taking part – and I can’t imagine that they would take this lightly. This duty is on going – so if during the process they have any concerns they should again be taking action to monitor the situation and take action if required.
      Does anyone actually know what the process is for acts entering for XF?

      • 360

        Now that you mention it this has jolted my memory. Goldie Cheung, from a few years back, made it to Judges’ Houses before twigging she was being treated as a joke act and withdrawing. And before her, the woman that sang a bizarre rendition of Duffy’s Mercy at her audition was also put throughto bootcamp despite being withdrawnby her family for having mental health issues or delusions. Both of these acts would have made it through several rounds of producer auditions before getting to that point. So I guess its possible that Honey G is only their first successful case of a delusional, not all there in the head act going all the way to the live shows. As commenters above noted, she does seem to be socially isolated. She’s self-employed and the only other person she seems to know is her mother. Is it that improbable that a smooth-talking producer has convinced Honey and her mother that they see a genuine talent in her and want to take her far and make her famous, tacitly never mentioning that the fame will come as a comedy character?

      • “the programme makers have a duty of care towards those taking part – and I can’t imagine that they would take this lightly” – I’d love to agree, in an ideal world where reality TV were responsible (lol), but recent years of TXF have shown us they don’t give a shite. Most other reality shows don’t either, think back to Nikki on BB7 or the girl who came third on I Wanna Marry Harry (yes, I watched that through to the end, it was rad) who was the only one who fell for the whole shebang hook line and sinker and was devastated when it wasn’t really Prince Harry.

        In week 2 I wrote: “This is the show that humiliated and bullied gentle, sensitive Abi to tears on national television, character-assassinated the best act it ever had [Misha B] just to create drama, specially invited Cory Spedding to audition just to humiliate her for a storyline, told the Pink impersonator girl to perform as Pink then mocked her for doing so, repeatedly brought back Melanie and Jade solely for storyline purposes when there was no intention of ever putting them through, etc etc. […] It’s non-consensual scripted reality – at least in TOWIE the cast know they’re acting out storylines and have expressly agreed to do so. TXF toys with and gleefully shatters the hopes and dreams of [talented young people] desperate for a break, at a formative time in their lives, with zero regard for the consequences – not only does the show not care about talent, it doesn’t care about human lives or providing basic care or aftercare to its participants. They’re just content, and the show relishes the cruelty with which it treats them because it all means more drama.”

        The example of Goldie also came to mind while I was writing my comment about Honey G. With Goldie it seems a friend or family member was able to get through to her that she was the butt of the joke and convince her to withdraw. If that hadn’t happened they’d have had zero qualms about having her in the live shows. TXF just wants spectacle.

  • Poker Coach

    Sofabet community has a lot of merits and good analyze, but fall in short in thinking about mire complex strategies.

    Here people seem to think that if somebody is shown in a bad light, production team is not in favour of that act and vice versa.

    However in a surroundings where there is a need for drama, possible need to make sign offs interesting, sympathy bounce and need to manipulate rankings of other acts the situation is much morw complex.

    I believe that they often have a need to “borrow” votes for specific reasons. Then the target from whom they borrow these seems to be in a target but actually that act could be just the most conveniant source for it.

    Also they might plan a sympathy bounce when negative vt could be a positive thing. Or they want to avoid specific b2/b3 considering them too early for their needs.

    For all these reasons we should not think that how they treat an act is what they actually want from it.

  • stoney

    Emily will be benefitting from Ryans exit and will probably pick up around 80% of his votes. I would advise caution if she isnde ramped this weekend and would advise people to be aware this is to stop her pulling ahead of matt rather than hoping to get her into the bottom 2 , anyone backing her for bottom 2/ next elimination is wasting their money

    • Steve

      I have to agree with Stoney here. Being Scottish myself we do tend to favour our own. Added to that, the R&E relationship was such a huge part of the lives that people will have them inextricably linked so having voted for Ryan a large percentage will transfer their votes to Emily (although some will naturally go to Matt and then 5AM to a lesser extent). Factoring in Emily’s bubbly and endearing personality I genuinely believe people would throw her lots of sympathy votes this weekend if she is shown to be ill/struggling. I can’t seem to move away from backing Emily in the “without Matt” market currently

      • Scott

        Beyond the favouring our own aspect – and there is a degree of that – there is an entirely separate Scottish media which has print and web pages, and hours of radio, to fill. So they will inevitably throw the kitchen sink at getting behind a Scottish act. So if you’re up there, you’re almost certainly going to get flooded with stuff about Emily and Ryan.

        Stoney’s point is a very good one and one that I hadn’t considered, although I acknowledge the follow-on points. The only concern I have about Emily is whether, if she is ill, she is the dependable act they want in the final. I suspect she probably was, but depending on her condition I wonder whether putting Saara in there, someone they know how to deramp when they have to, may be a safer bet. The favourites remain 5AM, but that comes down to whether the bosses have any plans for them post-show and also whether their act can be polished enough for a final performance.

  • stoney – 80% of nothing is nothing…

    • stoney

      He avoided the bottom 2 a few weeks ago. He clearly had some level of support

    • David Cook

      Past history would suggest that it’s likely he would have picked up somewhere between 8 and 12% of the vote – assuming he was bottom out of six. If it is very tight then that could make quite a difference with vote transfer.
      I do think however that it’s unlikely he was picking up all his votes from Scotland. Perhaps he was picking up an equally significant portion from younger female voters and maybe they’re more likely to transfer to Matt?

    • Alan

      Why on earth would Emily get 80% of Ryans vote? Because they were in a relationship? Doesn’t make any sense at all.

      Agree that she wont be bottom 2 though.

      • stoney

        Read Steves post above that sums it up best. The fact they are in a relationship is not nearly as beneficial as the fact they both come from scotland. Even if they were total strangers she would still hoover up a massive share of his vote

      • Alison cassells

        The assumption is that the scottish regional vote was split between Emily and ryan. With ryan gone, she is likely to pick up some of his vote transfer. However I am aware to to assume, makes an “ass out of u and me” as they say

    • DGiles

      I imagine most of Ryan’s votes came from teenage girls who thought he was hot. It certainly wasn’t on singing ability.

      I can’t imagine the girlfriend being all that popular with these types of voters.

  • Woofie

    I think what happens with Honey G from now on will be done in the context of support for the other favoured contestants. I don’t believe they will do anything that will have an adverse impact on the more favoured. If she is supported this weekend to bounce it will be because it helps a more favoured contestant.

    I think it would be better if she was to the leave the competition this weekend. She will still generate headlines even after the final. This is not going to be a contestant that faces a couple of interviews on the following Monday and Tuesday, and that’s the last we hear from them. All the issues discussed on this forum tells you the media will be intrigued to know what this woman is all about – is she for real etc. The media will want to interview her and report on her gigs e.g. the usual G.A.Y appearance etc. That might over shadow the final but I think it will keep the show in the papers and be a talking point for the final.

    The best contestant in my opinion for the sing off would be Saara, a David and Goliath showdown. Saara would also allow the judges to heap praise on Honey G for being entertaining but accepting that Saara is without doubt the better vocalist by a mile and, of course, Saara would be dependable to deliver a strong performance. This I believe would be a more dignified exit for Honey G.

    Remember when Jedward exited the contest they released a single (Under Pressure/Ice Ice Baby) with Sony that was first aired at the National TV Awards in January, including an appearance with Vanilla Ice. I could see a similar path for Honey G. I believe it is in the best interests of the show and Honey G, the sooner she exits rather than continue in the competition that could turn very negative.

  • I’ve never been convinced by the Matt Emily/5am tricast that so many and the market thinks. So for me it’s just wait and see.

  • 360

    A DS thread has actually hit on a point we have all missed that we should keep in mind – if the bottom 2 this week is Saara and Honey G, there’s a decent chance Honey could stay in because both acts are Sharon’s, giving her the excuse to “not be able to send either of them home” and abstain.

    That just leaves 2 votes to save Honey and Saara’s out. Simon can easily pull “it should go to deadlock” or “Saara, you’re just not connecting with the public” at the start and save Honey G, move to Sharon who abstains, Nicole who saves Saara and then Louis who votes Saara out out of badness to save Honey G. Something to keep in mind as a possibility for this week’s betting.

    • Woofie

      That is good because it means it will likely be tense, creating drama and that it is possible that the strongest vocalist could go. However, if that was the sing off I don’t think Honey G would be saved.

    • DGiles

      I’m not sure there is any purpose for them to save Honey G again. They’ve done the whole controversial save this week. Saving her again would probably do the brand more harm than good and potential set up the final on a bad note.

    • stoney

      This is the reason i decided to swerve Honey G next elimination and go in hard on sharon first judge out. I can not see past a matt 5am emily final and this seems like free money.
      Although i remember a few years ago everyone being convinced rough copy would be joining nick and Sam bailey in the final 3 and they sent luke Friend through at their expense. So nothing is a cert

    • GsP

      If Honey G hadn’t been bottom 2 last weekend I’d have agreed with you but I’m not sure they’ll save her two weeks in a row. Unless they are confident they can save her via deadlock.

      But then why bother if she’s going to leave in the semis anyway.

  • EM

    Vote transfer. It doesn’t happen in any way large enough or predicable enough for it to even enter into our thoughts.

    Discuss…

    • EM

      And while I’m on… no one has ever been saved in a sing-off because they sang better than the other act.

      In other words they put through the act they want to put through regardless.

      Discuss!

      • Dana

        Only time I can think of when it might have made a difference was Ruth Lorenzo vs Laura White. A much hyped producer favourite against someone they couldn’t care less about.

        • EM

          There is a niggle in my head saying it may have happened once and that might have been the one

          • Martin

            Was there not an argument in these parts that in 2013 that Luke Friend was saved against Rough Copy due to a stronger sing off? I can’t really remember that instance in a lot of detail but I know it caused an understandable upset here as Rough Copy were more favoured than Luke ever was. Or was this the one where we believed Sharon went rogue?

            Either way, I do agree that sing off decisions are pre-planned. Now more than ever – the results show this year seem to place a guest performance between the sing off result being announced and the actual performance. With forgetful Sharon on the panel, i would be using this time to make triple sure that she remembers to send home the correct person.

      • stoney

        I’ve have already said numerous times the act that is going to be sent home is decided before the results show

    • Martin

      I get the train of thought here being that the loss of one Scottish act benefitting another Scottish act. Previous evidence with Leon Jackson and Nick McDonald shows that it’s a valuable regional vote but against that:
      – they were young, core demo friendly male acts that are likely to appeal to broader vote than only Scottish people.
      – they were pre-app free votes, times have changed
      – acts like Emily in the past (i refer here to Diana Vickers and Janet Devlin) have flown in early weeks but drifted later in the competition.
      Taking all things into account, we have possibly outdated evidence of a regional vote (in relation to vote transfer) and mixed messages when it comes to Emily’s treatment so far. Last weekend the show seemed more concerned about massaging Simon’s ego than making sure Emily was safe. we can’t possibly have any evidence of vote transfer in the past, i think it’s a dangerous way of assuming an act will be safe.

      • Steve

        Do you not feel that other factors add to the argument that Emily will make the final though, namely: her likeability, last week’s pimp slot and 4 judge standing ovation, evidence of a journey (both individually and as part of a couple) the decision not to pursue the lovers sing off (surely if she was near the bottom of the vote last weekend they would have gone for it this weekend), Simon’s desire to have an act in the final, the opportunity to have three finalists untainted by a sing off, a winners single perfectly suited to her (or Matt), Honey G out the running, Saarah’s end of journey VT last week.

        Also Diana V (my favourite ever X factor contestant) ran out of steam and Janet D was viciously brought down over several weeks, something not attempted with Emily.

        • Martin

          Oh completely – my comment was a more direct reply to EM’s invite for discussion regarding vote transfer rather than a direct discussion about Emily overall. But now you mention it, she is immensely likeable and i said weeks ago that if the quality of her performances matched her personality she’d walk the contest as she’s by far the most likeable contestant remaining. It’s bound to endear voters. She has been gifted consistently good slots in the running order this year, which shows favour to some degree although it’s worth bearing in mind that Lauren Murray was last year, but she was taken down in other ways which Emily hasn’t yet experienced fully. Her treatment last week seemed more focussed on a redemption arc for daring to disagree with Simon – to me her pimp slot felt flat because i thought her performance was disappointing but that’s subjective.

          I’m in two minds about whether Simon would sacrifice being in the final with an act over other factors. Ultimately, i don’t think he’s particularly bothered this year in the grand scheme of things, but i do think that Emily is a likely candidate for third place.

          The one thing I’m curious about is that there is discussion about there not being a sing off in the semi final. There has been one for the last four years – I’d taken it as a standard part of the show now and hadnt considered the possibility of them not doing it this year.

  • Piresistable

    Daniel, thank you for quoting me, I’m glad I wasn’t the only one to notice Dermot’s chicken reference. The more I thought about it, though, the more I thought it was unlikely to be anything significant. I suspect the reference would have gone straight over the heads of those voting for 5AM.

    As you always say, we have to be careful about disappearing down rabbit holes. Personally I don’t think much of 5AM and perhaps I was looking for signs that the producers may be losing interest in them. But that clearly isn’t the case, and the support from the Sunday guests is, I think, significant.

  • Dendrite

    The latest Tellymix X Factor Spotify charts for Week 7 are up:

    1. Matt 37110
    2. Emily 27953
    3. Saara 21945
    4. Honey G 14151
    5. Ryan 13492
    6. 5 AM 11492

    Matt back in a solid lead and, perhaps more significantly, the chicken boys dead last.

    • HL

      Google Trends tell almost the same story. The interest towards acts in the UK on week 7 from Monday to Sunday:

      1. Honey G > 200
      2. Matt Terry 32
      3. Emily Middlemas 18
      4. Saara Aalto 17
      5. 5 After Midnight 11
      6. Ryan Lawrie 10.

      Honey G is obviously getting lots of negative attention that does not have much influence on Spotify listenings or votes. Ryan was peaking on Sunday related to elimination (together with Emily). Otherwise the difference between 5 AM and Ryan would be larger. (That is, Google Trends were telling very clearly that Ryan should go home.)

      The calendar week is however not that good time interval, it is more interesting to see the peaks on Saturday and Sunday and analyse what might have caused them. And then if there is something happening during the other days or if the activity is close to zero.

      I would say that all the data that I am monitoring has been constantly telling the same story about 5 AM. There has not been that much interest towards them during the weeks (I have been monitoring them separately and together), and even their pimp slot performances have peaked surprisingly weakly. Either they are getting votes at better ratio than other acts or then they need massive help from the producers to avoid B2.

      • Woofie

        That is interesting. Boyband groups used to show positive results in social media and the like but that didn’t reflect totally in the voting. Maybe 5AM pick up casual and swing votes but not to the point that viewers are invested in them to follow them up afterwards. This is where the app voting data is useful.
        If that is the case they have broad appeal but not passionate fans surely that presents an issue for a post show launch?
        If they want to support that process is this time to start showing what this group could be like after the show?
        I do think what they do with the group this weekend is going to be important as to where they end up in this competition and afterwards.
        I don’t think it is totally clear yet what the producers plans are…

      • EM

        I think it’s pretty easy to see 5am are more Stereo Kicks than One Direction.

        I do wonder sometimes if they acknowledge that groups are much harder to get going than solo acts and just try their best but give up on them quickly when it’s not happening.

        Having said that they do seem remarkably haphazard about them. It’s no secret that every act from talent contests that have taken off have had easily identifiable members with stories that people care about – Hear’say, Girls Aloud, JLS, One D, Little Mix.

        Sure there’s lots more in the mix but surely it’s not beyond them to put interesting people in the groups and develop narratives less bland than Rough Copy, Stereo Kicks etc

  • Woofie

    Apologies this a long post.

    IF Simon has plans for a post show launch of 5AM. Taking aside Reggie’n’Bollie as a male duo where there was no interest in developing a music career. This has to be the best place he has had a favoured male group in this competition since 1D in 2010.

    1D’s highest position in the voting during the 2010 series was 3rd with no sing off appearances. That year 1D’s main competition was Matt Cardle, Rebecca Ferguson, Cher Lloyd and Mary Bryne.

    They have got 5AM to the quarter finals stage without a B3/B2 appearance, the other considered favoured male groups after 1D had sing off appearances: Union J, Rough Copy, and the ill fated 8 piece Stereo Kicks with 3 sing off appearances in 2014. None of those male groups achieved a final placing.

    Interesting point about does the vocal performance matter in a sing off? Stereo Kicks were wounded and Lauren Platt totally out sung them. There was a feeling on here that Simon had the last call making Mel B choose Stereo Kicks, so he an had the option to save them at that moment. You could see the disappointment and annoyance as he choose Lauren, knowing that deadlock meant Stereo Kicks were gone. The voting revealed it was tight I think 1-2%.

    I believe after Stereo Kicks a lot of lessons have been learnt. I think the producers (Simon), if they have the confidence in 5AM, and it is possible, will want to support this group to a final placing without a B2 appearance, which I think given the issues with vocals will taint them and maybe burst their bubble. A final appearance without a sing off is a good launch pad.

    I was intrigued to see there was no mention of 5AM in Fleur’s Standard article. Last weekend they dampened the group, not to the point of risking a drop into the danger zone, but just enough to keep them ticking over. Despite Judge’s final references etc., for 5AM I think the perception from most regular viewers at this stage is Matt vs Emily… with 5AM behind as they enter the home straight.

    In a tight race, timing the run for the finish is everything.

    The producers have been able on two key occasions, week 2 and week 6 (Disco) generate a massive studio audience reaction with the group, which I am sure helped to motivate votes and led to Dermot’s comments about the voting. Even when they were off par last week they created a buzz in the studio. They must now have traction in the voting and with the right level of support could do the same again, picking up a good portion of swing votes and presenting them as credible contenders, backing up the judges’ praise. Was last week an opportunity to create a bit of a gap when they go full on again? Take them off the boil? To allow Simon to qualify his critique to make it more effective later?

    Yes there are serious issues with vocals, which creates doubt and might scupper plans but this group can create a “wow” moment in the studio (without a strong vocal) and the producers maybe keen to do so, remember Dermot’s “well that was a marker” in disco week. In the media they have been described as cool and slick. Of course, they are not everyone’s cup of tea and I’m sure their vocals do not go unnoticed. But so far with producer support they have avoided a B2 appearance.

    Can you remember a time when a contestant (TCO) was asked who was their strongest competition in their VT? Matt told us “they [5AM] have got it all, they sing, they can dance, they’ve got the whole package.” Was that question from the journalist planted or did the producers exploit it? We had visuals of 5AM in rehearsals when Matt was “praising” them.

    This week I think will be telling, what they do with 5AM and the other contestants with 2 songs. I too feel they have better control of the voting this year, pulling and pushing levers to get broadly what they want without major nuking of contestants.

    It will be interesting to see if they now focus on Kieran (lead vocal) and his family in one of the VTs this week. As we know in an earlier VT his girlfriend of 11 months is pregnant, which for some of us set alarm bells off, especially for Middle England. The point I what to make is this is no “cute boyband” relying on their looks to attract votes from teens. I think Middle England accept people make mistakes but it is how they deal with those mistakes which is important. If the group is presented as cool, relevant, fun and exciting they will attract teen votes.

    Of course it could all go belly up with 2 songs and 2 routines to learn, and plans may already been set that favour other contestants. Song choice news may be revealing. But at this point and IF they want to launch 5AM post show, I cannot believe the producers would not take forward the opportunity that they have facilitated to see the group into a final placing without a scratch from a sing off, if the voting data supports it and the public can be persuaded to play ball. That tellymix poll is interesting maybe it can’t be done?

    It is going to be an interesting week…..

  • I’ve been somewhat absent from the comments this series, work took over, so can only apologise

    Well what a bizarre series? Possibly the oddest and least exciting. I get the feeling like others that with the launch of the voice, that X factor and BGT will end up falling into a similar category I am attempt to push the voice forward as the real contest, anyway, I digress!

    My prelives prediction of Sam gift rock bottom didn’t it? Hands up for that one, on watching the show back, I am a little disappointed with the lack of creativity from the production team with her, they just didn’t know what to do with her!

    Then we look at who we have left:

    Honey g – I admit I have a little laugh to myself when she appears, but feel that it’s turned from laughing with the joke to laughing at the joke.

    Saara – what a star! Great voice and great performances week in and week out. If it hadn’t been for her previous appearances on other things I’d be backing her for the win. I say she gets third place with that Finnish embassy vt spinning on the Saturday night final.

    Emily – I really don’t understand this one, really don’t. Her trajectory and style is similar to Diana vickers, but bolstered by support from tptb.
    I think that if she hits the bottom 2 this week, then its a bid to propel her through to the final with a big production next week.

    Matt – was it obvious from the beginning? Was it really? I think the dumping of good talent at judges houses was really a sign that by thinning out the boys category was a good platform to kick him on from. I’m disappointed with such an obvious winner again if it is the case

    5am – another strange one, although Simon’s comment just before their audition that the next big thing will be able to “sing and dance” is a good positive.

    • HL

      I would not say that Saara has had massive career before this competition. She is paying the bills by dubbing children’s programmes in Finnish. Then selling self-released records to people who visit her Christmas concerts in Finnish chapels. Attending every single event and competition to get even a little bit of attention. It is pure madness to try to make it in Finland if not singing in local language, and without a record contract.

      Actually, talking about Google Trends, these stats might help you to understand what I am talking about. There you can see the blue peak (91%) is the election of the President of Finland Sauli Niinistö. Red and yellow lines are two quite popular Finnish female solo singers Chisu and Jenni Vartiainen. They have not been releasing any new material lately, but there are still small peaks here and there. Then Saara Aalto in comparison. Her green peak (100%) is the XF UK this month. This competition has already given Saara something she could have never ever achieved in Finland on her own.

      https://www.google.com/trends/explore?date=2008-01-01%202016-11-24&geo=FI&q=%2Fm%2F040zch,%2Fm%2F049gztj,%2Fm%2F09gpkyf,%2Fm%2F0nhylml

  • I think the final 2 will end up being Matt and 5am for a real pop/on trend final.

    I think the vote could end up being really split at the final hurdle with this one, because they are both hitting a similar demographic.

    Sorry work calls, will try to be back with more as soon as possible.

  • Tina

    Just seen from Twitter that the finalists are at the ITV gala. Singing one song. But no Honey G again. Strange, huh?

  • 360

    Uptown Funk for 5AM this week. How original.

    • EM

      If Saara is doing the Winner Takes It All stand by for speculation!

      It’s a song from a losers point of view BUT there’s hardly a better musical association for a Sandi than Abba

      • 360

        I saw that as a positive for Saara too. A fairly demanding and emotive vocal with the original sung in an accent similar to her own, so no danger of her getting the tone a little off.

        Plus it will play well to older voters who want to see very good karaoke rather than ‘making it your own’ or slowing a classic down.

    • DGiles

      Winner takes it all can be good if sung well. It’s only ever been sung horrifically in the lives though, but Saara is probably a cut above in terms of vocal ability.

      I still remember poor Rosie Ribbons for this performance, as it’s by far the worst vocal I’ve ever heard throughout the Pop Idol / Xfactor live shows. She was actually pretty good until she sung this.

  • GsP

    She sang it at judges houses and Robbie said it was boring. Red flag

    • Either Saara’s time is up or the sing off assassin is going to destroy Honey.

      Let’s hope for a good second song.

    • Poker Coach

      It seems that they want to quote Robbies words to demotivate in votes.

      -When you first sang this, Robbie Williams said that he didn’t feel it
      -Are you putting too much effort for technical performing?
      -I think that she has done better this week than last week
      -Imagine what a journey it has been! You have been three times in a sing off and as I listened this I am happy that we saved you then.
      -There is definitely a niche group who love this technical style of performimg a lot. This is very difficult song, so it is understandable that one must choose between being technical and between performing to connect tonthe audience!
      -When I closed my eyes it sounded like a well record for me. I enjoyed it really.

      Thats how I would demotivate it and give her an honourable exit

  • Dana

    I don’t think it’s a bad choice for Saara. At least gives her the opportunity to excel even if she doesn’t manage it.

    The show were trying to sell the “Saara is cold and unemotional” angle during judges houses and the first few weeks of the show when she first performed it, before seeming to change their mind.

  • stoney

    Can’t understand the feelings behind saaras abba song being a positive whatsoever

  • Martin

    Wow I’m looking forward to 5AM doing Uptown Funk as much as I look forward to going to the dentist. I hate it when acts artists recycle these ‘moment’ songs – much like when Rough Copy did Don’t Let Go, it never matches up and could be a harmful choice compared to Fleur’s marvellous version. Positives for them is that this song requires no vocal talent at all.

    The Winner Takes It All has been murdered by Only The Young and Union J before – it’s about time somebody did a decent version of it. Saara will sing it nicely, but I don’t think associating her with her judges houses appearance is in any way a positive for her. It’s likely to remind current voters who have warmed to Saara of how unappealing the show tried to make her pre-week 3.

    • Spiidey

      It’s also likely to remind viewers/voters of who got knocked out at her expense at judges houses.

      Bad bad bad associations, can’t see anything other than de motivating tactics as you say.

    • HL

      I can see them forcing Saara to do the Union J version. Then it would be totally different from the judges houses. In a bad way.

      But still hoping for a miracle. They could let her play the piano in the beginning and then sing her heart out. Beautiful staging, gorgeous dress and Sharon in tears. Yes, for sure.

      • HL

        The Sun: “Saara Alto could be seen strutting her stuff in practise for what looks set to be an energetic performance of ABBA’s The Winner Takes It All for Louis Loves.”

        So they really are trying some horrible arrangement. 🙁

  • Poker Coach

    Matt is singing Sia’s Alive.

    Saara did sing it well in the sing off earlier. That is interesting.

    • Martin

      Goodness me – I know his vocal is strong but even Sia struggles with that song herself. Be interested to see if he pulls it off.

      I’ve seen some gossip sites saying Honey G is doing MC Hammer.

  • Dana

    Saara due to perform some awful Diamonds are Forever/Diamonds are Girl’s Best Friend mashup. Cowell’s mouthpiece, Dan Wooton also bigging up Honey G’s performance.

    I think we can see where this is going.

  • Spiidey

    Two references to “abroad” in the first few lines of Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend, they must be lining up the embassy this week to try and get her bottom of the vote below Honey.

    “The French are glad to die for love
    They delight in fighting duels
    But I prefer a man who lives
    And gives expensive jewels
    A kiss on the hand
    May be quite continental
    But diamonds are a girl’s best friend”

    The lyrics after that aren’t great either and can’t see that appealing to middle England:

    “A kiss may be grand
    But it won’t pay the rental
    On your humble flat
    Or help you at the automat
    Men grow cold
    As girls grow old
    And we all lose our charms in the end”

    And….

    “He’s your guy
    When stocks are high
    But beware when they start to descend
    It’s then that those louses
    Go back to their spouses
    Diamonds are a girl’s best friend
    I’ve heard of affairs
    That are strictly platonic
    But diamonds are a girl’s best friend”

    Dear God. Ferrero Rocher at the ready!

    • Diamonds?

      Four of them?

      Or am I too far down the rabbit hole?

      • HL

        Both parts of the medley: I do not care about men, or people in general, I do not need you to care about me either, I have an icy cold heart and I only want to have sex and to get rich.

        I was thinking of icy staging once again, but actually the original staging for Marilyn Monroe is red and black (herself wearing hot pink).

        But it could be really fun and entertaining?

        • Jessica Hamby

          I think Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend is a fun song. It depends on how it’s delivered (although agreed that from a subliminal point of view it can sound unpleasant if portrayed in a certain way, or if the listener is some sort of meninist / fuckboy / pick up artist). I’m more concerned about Diamonds Are Forever. It doesn’t seem like an ideal competition song to me, but I said that about Matt Terry last week and they tried to make it into a stand-out moment of the season.

          Toxic is certain to be another John Lewising.

          https://youtu.be/zqKZ_WIK5ms

          Whether it will charm or bore the majority of voters is uncertain but given Emily’s limited emotional range I’m going for bore.

          Human will add a bit of variety. If she does something like the original that will be better for her than if she does an accoustic version. It will help if she can deliver on some of the intensity rather than making it ethereal and waif like (my opinion of course).

          https://youtu.be/mVONXvWDvVs

          It’s a bit one paced for her though. The promised uptempo numbers are not happening.

          (Let’s face it, they’re not going to put her on the back of a motorbike in a leather catsuit for Toxic, are they.)

  • Woofie

    From The Sun:

    Matt Terry will be performing Secret Love Song by Little Mix and Jason Derulo as well as SIA’s Alive.

    5 After Midnight will sing Uptown Funk and a mash-up of Justin Bieber’s Sorry with Drake’s One Dance.

    Emily is tackling Britney Spears’ Toxic and Human by Rag ‘N’ Bone Man.

    Saara is singing ABBA’s The Winner Takes It All and a mix of Diamonds Are Forever and Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend.

    Honey G is singing MC HAMMER, a mash-up of SALT-N-PEPA’s Push It mixed into Black Beatles.

    • Woofie

      If Honey G hadn’t fallen into the B2 you would say those song  choices all positive. The context they are played in is going to be important. I think the narrative will be ‘I’m a fighter”… I am not expecting any humility at all. That might work but I’m not sure, if the tone is aggressive and the  fall from grace was not her but everything else will the public go with that after last week’s sing off performance? If it’s all fun with a bit of humility that will be different I think 

      • Scott

        I will be fascinated as to how they play Black Beatles. On the face of it, I can’t think of a single less middle England friendly song this year. It is part of a mix though.

  • Spiidey

    Looks like Honey G may be doing the mannequin challenge live with the judges. That may just put her in with a shout at safety

  • stoney

    Looking at Emilys song choices i think they fit with my theory of keeping her vote in check and stopping her picking up more support ahead of the final

    • Henry VIII

      Or maybe getting her into B2.

      By contrast it looks like they still want Honey G for the final as the judges are going to be acting for her in her performance and Dan Wootton says “The performance is bound to be the highlight of Saturday night’s show”.

      • stoney

        They will need a miracle to get Honey to bounce now. She was absolutely awful in the way she shunned Ryan in the sing off. She has lost her like ability factor now. Rock bottom this weekend is a given imo. It’s just a case of if they can be bothered to save her over a better singer again.

  • Jessica Hamby

    Diamonds are Forever is a terrible song. It’s practically never played on UK radio, not even on radio 2 big band shows, because it’s so bloody awful.

  • HL

    Matt is singing the same song for the second time, and then Alive that has been sung by Saara. I’d guess that they are dampening him so that an act that is competing for the same votes won’t end in B2. He must have got a jackpot last week. Though I have to admit that it sounds a bit odd to hurt him at this stage of the competition, if he is the chosen one. Maybe the judges are going to say that he sang both songs better than anyone ever or something…

    • Henry VIII

      Or maybe he’s not the chosen one.

    • Jessica Hamby

      How many viewers will remember those facts or the previous performances? They may even use the previous footage to suggest that he wants to do better this time and set him up for a show-stopper with the confetti and the four judge SO. I’m not sure they want to damage him. If they do, this seems a convoluted way of going about it. They could just give him a dodgy song and bad feedback.

      They don’t need to make the competition close. They just need to give the impression that it is close. Those two things are not the same.

      • HL

        Maybe they give him the same song twice to show that Saara is not the only one? But give them otherwise a totally different treatment. It makes sense.

  • 360

    Looks to me to be a ‘get everybody under Honey and 5AM’ week. Black Beatles is tipped to be a #1 coming up, ots Honey’s fiest ‘relevant’ rap song. Emily, Matt and Saara all dampened and pigeonholed this week. The only difficulty or spanner in the works will be both acts they’re protecting’s limited ability to deliver solid performances, as well as some existing resentment against them – Honey for her bad attitude, and 5AM for being dancers more than musically competent, in a series where the other three in the top 5 are vocally strong and deliver week on week.

    If this was BGT 5AM would be much less harmed by this, but XF continues to maintain the image at least a little that its a singing contest, and as we’ve seen in the past, when it comes dpwn to the nitty gritty, enough of the public swing behind the singers at expense of the performers.

  • EM

    Some quick and scribbled thoughts on the songs:

    Matt – songs of limited appeal to quite a tight (female) demographic but possible to do something with them.

    Honey G – MC Hammer is just a novelty song – fun production etc but just pushes a joke act image. Salt N Peppa will again be fun and less novelty but the song is quite sexual and erm… she ain’t. I image Black Beatles will be used more around the mannequin stunt because a) the hook of it is sung not rapped and b) a lot of the lyrics are about being black (again she isn’t!)

    Saara – the songs can show off both her voice and give a big fun production into the show.

    5am – some of the biggest songs of the past two years (in fact the number song of 2015 and the number one song of 2016 so far). Could the intention be any clearer? The hook on Uptown Funk is instrumental which shouldn’t challenge the vocals and allow some dancing.

    Emily – I see warning signs. Britney songs are toxic anyway, the one thing Britney has is a big voice which Emily doesn’t. There’s potential in Human though.

    All this comes with the caveat that Matt-gate last week here showed how wrong we can be reading the songs and there’s usually at least one act who gets told their first song didn’t work so there’s a massive chance to turn it round a deliver something better with song 2.

    • 360

      Did you mean the one thing Britney DOESN’T have is a big voice?? She’s infamous for not being all that of a singer and never performing live…

      I don’t see Emily as a much worse singer than Britney, much of a muchness if not actually stronger herself.

  • India Marie

    based on the songs

    Saara could be in trouble this week. They will try to bounce Honey G, or they will let her go in a demotivating high (let her do her thing but not inspire people to vote for her).

  • Martin

    Emily – “Human” is a fantastic song but largely unknown to an X Factor audience. The version she is likely to perform may be drastically different from the original. That said, she probably will do a nice version of it. Expect “current” and “relevant” references aplenty. “Toxic” however is a massive reg flag. Nothing says producer favour like reprising the song that was taken off you in week one for not practicing enough. Not that the majority of the XF audience will be aware of that, of course.

    5AM – seems positive. “One Dance” will remind viewers of their excellent first audition, and “Uptown Funk”, whilst Fleur performed the difinitve version of it on the show, is uptemo and energetic and right in the brassy, confident lane the show has given them so far.

    Saara – both choices worrying for me. I have no doubt that Saara will perform them both well, but I don’t think they signify a great deal of support for her this weekend.

    Honey G – “Black Beatles” is a shit song, but the choice reminds me of when Reggie N Bollie did “Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae)” and Cheryl got up with them. Wouldn’t be surprised to see more judge interaction than they got. “Push It” and the MC Hammer song are what they’ve pushed her for so far. I see them trying to work with a bounce.

    Matt – I don’t see these as negative choices, unless he’s purposed been given “Alive” as it’s too big for him, ala Nic McDonald with “Halo”. They’re both modern, popular and demo delighting.

    Seems like an obvious attempt to get Saara out – as to who with her, I’d suggests Emily based on song choice.

  • Daz

    Wasn’t Emily going to sing Toxic on the first live show but it got changed because “it wasn’t right” so how come it is a good choice now

  • Steve

    My take on this week is to ramp Honey G to high heaven to get her above Saara to allow it to go to deadlock and send Saarah Home. Song choices for other 3 suggest Matt and Emily were in top 2 last week and 5AM need all the help they can to escape bottom 2.

    I envisage Saarah going this weekend followed by Honey G next week without a sing off.

    I can imagine Dermotts closing remarks at the semi final being “so we have three acts in the final who have never been bottom 3 and who have all topped the vote at some point this series” giving the idea (as they have done all series )that it’s a very close run thing. Surely that gets more people tuning in than having deadwood of Saarah or Honey G there?

    • GsP

      That’s exactly how it looks to me too. Saara will be first on in both slots, Honey G 4th in the first and then closing the show.

      They can’t save Honey G in judges vote for a second time, they need to get it to deadlock using it being Saara’s fourth appearance.

      I would love Saara to somehow sneak up into 3rd, but hard to see it happening.

      • EM

        “They can’t save Honey G in a judges votes the second time”

        They can’t????

        • Jessica Hamby

          Heh.

          They might lose some viewers but I don’t think they care about that anymore. The decline in ratings seems irreversible and so they go with what they know. Sensationalism. They’d rather be hated than ignored.

          • Steve

            Interested to hear how you think the next few weeks will play out then Jessica. Still thinking Saarah as a finalist?

          • Phil

            My gut feeling is that Saara has turned a corner. Comments under any XF Facebook posts (when they’re not about how much they don’t get the Honey G joke) are full of support for Saara. Very little for 5AM or Emily.

          • HL

            It seems that most XF fans (and Sofabet people) would like her to reach the final but do not think “the others” feel the same. But are there that many others? If all these people are actually voting accordingly, she will eventually make it.

            (To be honest, most stats keep telling that Matt is running away and Emily is still getting more attention than Saara. But only a little bit, so she could easily take her place if the producers would allow her to do it. Let alone the other two acts who need constant help to get there.)

          • Tpfkar

            Wouldn’t they lose more viewers when Honey G is eliminated? I never believe anyone who says they will never watch he show again after a controversial sing-off.

          • stoney

            Judging by the amount of viewers they have lost over the last 5 years i do

  • HL

    Have you seen Alex & Sierra singing Toxic? X Factor USA 2013. It was a slowed down version and there is something similar in Emily’s voice. If done like that, it could be something close to her audition. Not necessarily a bad choice for her, although it would be one week more without any real uptempo, but apparently she can get away with it.

  • Nick

    Agree with stoney. Sharron first judge out is decent bet. Tricky to know if they get funky with HG or Saara this week….but both to go next, seems the plan.

  • David Cook

    Here’s an interesting version of Saara’s song:

  • GsP

    http://www.ditchthelabel.org/saara-aalto-interview/

    What an incredible young woman. A shame she’s not getting to express these things more clearly on the show, and that this interview won’t get much readership.

    But hopefully regardless she’s set herself up with unlimited Pride bookings for years to come. A great advocate for the LGBT+ community

    • 360

      Eye-opening interview. The first thing that pops out is that ‘Saara from Finland’ actually lives in London! I had no idea… I was very much under the impression, that the show has I feel tried to paint, that she is a Finnish woman who had come over especially to compete in this competion, with the intention to move back once it’s finished.

      Bloody hell, the way they’re painting her is even more not on if she actually lives here all the time. You might as well call me ‘360 from Ireland’ in that case… Are people not allowed to come from a different place than where they actually live when they’re on the show now, without it being brought up every five minutes?? What’s Nicole’s excuse for not being announced as ‘Nicole from America’ every week?

  • David Cook

    If only Honey G would do this:

  • Jessica Hamby

    Does anyone think Matt will sell much music after the show?

    • 360

      My gut says X Factor winners will see ever-diminishing returns now as less and less people watch the show, less and less music buyers watch the show, and less and less people even buy music.

      As such there’s less investment in the journey OR the singer on behalf of the audience. The only way they (that is, the XF) will see another success is if they by chance happen on something big or manage to funnel an act through another of their properties, or let them ride someone else’s coattails like Louisa and Clean Bandit.

      For me I feel the most success Matt would see is if they try and send him down the same R&B-pop path as Zayn from One Direction, that kind of music would suit his voice. If they try and give him pure pop after emphasizing his vocal power and falsetto all series he will absolutely sink like a stone.

      The music industry is a different animal now. Even well-established artists and bands struggle to see any kind of chart success any more.

  • I can see 5am having a very positive week doing uptown funk and drake one dance. Producers have lined them up perfectly with those songs!

  • I noticed Honeys sing off on YouTube was taken down and reuploaded. The reupload taken away “When I say save, you say me” hmm… looks like they are determined to keep in Honey another week.

    • EM

      Potentially rights related rather than manipulation – if they were removing everything objectionable they’re would be a lot more edited videos!

      • Alan

        LOL. Like the removal of those words would have a positive impact on her votes this week. Whatever next? Visiting KFC in her VT to try and capture the black vote?

  • Scott

    It’s very difficult to see past Honey G or Saara this week. On the face of it, if you were asking me to find a song which was the least middle England friendly I could possibly choose, it would be Black Beatles. On the other hand though, if it plays into the mannequin challenge, it might get some recognition and be a good little gimmick. The issue is how many average punters will know what that is away from the internet, and how it plays if they don’t – will they think it’s new and novel, or will they just go “What’s this shit?” It’s impossible to tell without seeing the performance and VT beforehand.

    If they are trying to ramp up Honey G this week, you’d assume it’s to go with the bounce so they can get her out next week. At which point they have a choice as to who to kick out the door this time round. Matt and Emily are your solid performers who will normally deliver (though Emily’s sickness has to place some doubts on that). 5AM are vocally unsure but probably still have at least another couple of weeks in them, if not the final.

    Where does Saara’s journey go? I suspect her fate depends a lot on how the other contestants behave. If 5AM stick in on practicising, if Honey G does a good job with this week’s gimmick, if the other two just continue to remain middle England friendly feel-good Christmas stories, there’s probably no room left. If any of them cause problems then she could easily be parachuted in as a safe pair of hands who can be deramped during the final itself by sending her to the Finnish embassy and/or painting her gold.

    Like I say, I would be very wary of calling this week until we see the performances.

    • Spiidey

      It’s fairly easy to initiate the public who haven’t seen the mannequin challenge – they just need to refer to it in Honey’s vt. And perhaps show a clip of one that’s already been done. I wouldn’t put it past them actually paying for the rights to air one of the biggies (the White House one or Andy Murray/Novak Djokovic) in her VT to really ramp it up for her.

  • Question… sorry if it’s al ready been suggested.

    Saara – Winner Takes It All. Reckon it’ll be like Sarah Dawn Finer at Eurovision 2013?

  • I wouldn’t rule out Emily going under the bus if she turns up doing another barefoot John Lewis pile of wank. Surely the public are getting bored of her?

  • Curtis

    I’m afraid to say that the producers have had their fill of Saara and she is certainly the target this weekend. “The Winner Takes It All” and “Diamonds Are Forever” are tried and tested vote dampeners. All other choices seem broadly helpful.

  • Spiidey

    Honey G to have a “socially isolated because I was bullied VT” this week?

  • stoney

    Absolutely flabbergasted at people thinking this mannequin gimmick is going to propel Honey Gs votes this weekend. I detest seeing that crap all over my facebook feed. Has anyone considered others are feeling the same?

    • EM

      Your logic there appears to suggest it’s very popular!

      • stoney

        Yes but its relevance in a singing competition to motivate votes is the big question mark
        Maybe she can do the dab celebration if she gets through

        • EM

          Can’t see it as anything but a positive. The X Factor is far from a pure singing contest, it’s explicitly about more than singing.

          It’s a hugely popular craze right now, even if you don’t know what it is the effect can be stunning. Just like a mash-up can be used to enhance audience enjoyment (slash minimise boredom!) this may well lift the audience appreciation and certainly won’t be open to the accusation that she does the same thing every week.

          Whether it’s enough to lift her off the bottom is the moot point but it very much appears they are trying,

          If they want to demotivated votes then there are much more sure fire ways to do it than this.

          • stoney

            The way I see it is if they want to keep her in for another week they have to go to town on saara then they may be able to save Honey on deadlock. Its damage limitations now though.

          • Woofie

            What will be interesting is public reaction to what to me will come across as clear favouritism if all the judges take part.. ok for your mentor but all the judges involved and supporting a contestant, rather than “impartially” judging a performance afterwards…. might be ok if it’s done as part of the introduction… Going to be interesting how it is played and received…

            I am reserving judgement this week till I have seen all the performances. Context is going to be key. Song choices can on paper be positive/negative but the way they are played makes all the difference: VT, staging, styling, arrangement, performance, studio reaction, judges comments etc. I have an idea what I think the producers intentions are but until I see more confirmation/evidence I’m not confident in my predictions.

            I do think the producers have better control of the voting this year, pulling and pushing levers to get broadly what they want. At this stage of the competition with the finishing line in sight and as we move up a level with 2 performances are they going to reveal their hand more this week and more importantly will the public play ball?

        • stoney

          This is a very good point. There was a huge backlash when Dermot tapped in The Fleur Bus a few years ago

    • Scott

      I suspect the mannequin challenge has a very similar appeal to Honey G – while most of us here are completely bored of her and were weeks ago, not everyone watches the show and pays attention to their social media in the same way as we do.

      For some, she’s a bloody hilarious new creation. For some, they’re sharing the mannequin challenge on their Facebook because they’ve just heard of it (maybe because a celebrity they know did it) and they think it’s new and novel.

      It’s an ITV audience we’re dealing with. That’s not me looking down on them, just me suggesting they’re not at the cutting edge of new trends.

      I have some sympathy with the theory that Saara’s journey has come to a natural end, and that they’ll milk a little bit more out of Honey G – maybe one more week – before she becomes the unofficial star of the show during the rejects’ parade on Sunday night. They’ve done an incredible job to keep this going for so long, in fairness to them.

  • Woofie

    Funny enough in an odd way I’m actually looking forward tonight and how they do Louis Loves theme. I do think they are showing Louis at lot of love this year….

  • Woofie

    Thinking about it more it will be interesting to see if the mannequin part is done as a build up to the performance or actually during the performance.

  • David Cook

    Black Beatles could be the perfect performance for Honey. Can she stand still and say nothing for the full 2:30, with the sound track playing full belt and a huge production going on around her. For me this would retain the best elements of her previous performances whilst also removing the worst. I think she might be on to a winner with this.

    • I think she could get the top of the vote with that. Maybe she shouldn’t go on stage at all, just go back to north weezy and watch TV as dermot says “And the winner of the X Factor 2016 is… Honey G!” And dermot proceeds to talk to an invisible person.

  • Plinkiplonk

    For me there seem to be too few indicators for what the actual strategy is this week, but then this season has been a rather meandering one, compared to last year’s straight forward borefest. I would be swayed towards the Saara/Honey G bottom 2, simply because Saara has the most obvious de-ramp songs, and if Honey G can go B2 last week with only the merest hint of criticism from Nicole, then her demographic cannot be that strong, and she seems to be doing the same schtick again this week, only TWICE.

    As mentioned above, this would make for the interesting ‘Sharon’s choice’ scenario. Taking it for granted that Saara would vocally wipe the floor with anything Honey G could deliver, here is how I would predict it plays out:

    To save HoneyG, if she’s dead last, Dermot will go to Sharon first and try and force a decision, she will wail and abstain from the vote. The other three will save Honey 2:1. If Saara is last, Sharon will be asked last and take it to deadlock because she ‘cannot choose between her girls’.

    To save Saara, they can do whatever they please with either scenario, as she is so very clearly the more accomplished singer. I think Sharon would still abstain just for dramatic effect…

    What I still cannot work out is whether TPTB would care more for having Honey G around (for headlines and LOLZ) or for keeping Saara (as the only one that can actually, you know, SING). I have a feeling it will all depend on what deals and plans have been laid out pre-show…

    • David Cook

      If they really want to save Honey and push her towards the final they have to get her third bottom tonight. If she’s B2 two weeks in a row even with the massive productions and pimpings then what possible point is there in saving her again? I assume they’re hoping Saara will fill one of the B2 places. To get Honey up to third they’d need to get one of the others B2. Punishing Emily with a song she’s already turned down week 1 probably tells us all we need to know.

  • The actual good one (I mean Saara)’s most recent tweet is interesting. “Don’t worry about tomorrow, it’s only today” perhaps if Gifty’s claim was true maybe the actual good one was just told she was eliminated?

    Saaras odds to be the next elimination have increased a bit, but Honey is still the favourite.

    I need to stop looking into things, I said I did not believe in subliminals.

    Next I will talk about how Ed Balls “Ed Balls” tweet from 4 years ago foreshadowed his strictly entrance.

    Please rate my jokes on a scale of 0-0.

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