X Factor 2016: 5AM’s Journey – From Brotherly Spats to Backing Tracks

The act with the most positive overall treatment goes into this weekend’s climax as outsiders. 5 After Midnight have been namechecked as finalists more than anyone else, and received the most endorsements from stars guesting on the Sunday show. We’ve consistently been encouraged to emotionally connect with Jordan, Kieran and Nathan – and their families – more than we have with either Matt or Saara.

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But their relative lack of support in the betting market reflects another inconvenient reality: their vocal capabilities have been under question from the beginning, with only frontman Kieran able to hold a solo of any significance. Just how noticeable that’s been is down to the backing track, which has occasionally drowned out the boys’ voices. There’s been no acknowledgement of that in the judges’ critique, but the public were unconvinced enough to put the trio in the bottom two in week 8.

Which makes it all the more amusing to look back at how they introduced themselves at auditions: “We all love the same type of music,” explains Kieran. “Those big vocals, vocal acrobatics.”

It was an exemplary audition edit, showcasing producer favour from the start. The moment they walk in, Nicole says “hello boys” in a happy-sounding way, and Louis smiles. We cut to an explanation that they met through the solo circuit, where their individual careers were stalling, and we’re shown them laughing and joking together as Jackson 5’s ‘ABC’ plays in the background. At one point they even frolic in slow-motion through some long grass. Back in the audition room, Simon says: “you look good together” before they perform ‘One Dance’.

Louis says it was “slick” and “fun”, Sharon adds “natural” and “easy on the eye”, and Nicole praises their “good energy” and “good vibe” before adding a note of prescient caution: “you’re doing your harmonies and dancing at the same time, so when you all are on you’re really on, but when you’re off you’re really off”. Simon flags their “potential” and adds that “I genuinely believe the next big boyband will be one that can dance”. As they celebrate four yeses with their friends and families to the strains of ‘Higher and Higher’, we cut to Nicole claiming “they can all sing”.

We got only half a minute of them at bootcamp, with approving judgely looks but nothing significant said. The six-chair challenge edit had plenty of cutaways to admiring females, including 4 of Diamonds reacting with delight to a Kieran backflip. “Potential” but “not a perfect vocal” were the takeaways from their judges’ houses performance, while the reveal saw them emphasising how much they’ve “bonded”.

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It was more than enough to establish them as the clear alpha group going into the live shows, and the positivity continued into week 1 when their show-opening ‘Can’t Stop The Feeling’ elicited a three-judge standing ovation and Louis predicting “we’re going to go all the way to the final”. All four judges were on their feet after week 2’s mashup of ‘Get Ready’ and ‘Reach Out I’ll Be There’. Nicole told them “this is your career”, and Simon vouched for them as “such nice people”. The show couldn’t have done more for them in these first two public votes.

So what went wrong in week 3? The VT started promisingly with a mention that they were “having more input” and “working hand-in-hand with Brian”, as we were reminded that Nathan is a dance teacher. But then it went awry. We saw Nathan irritably telling the others: “I don’t think that should be the first move, and I can’t do that move, so… I don’t know why you’re looking at me, we both can’t do it”. Cut to Brian: “They aren’t agreeing… they aren’t even talking. They’re eating up my time.” Cut to Louis asking them how they’re getting on. Kieran: “Sometimes you hate each other”. Say what? Bickering is about the most damaging look imaginable for a boyband on this show.

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After their rendition of ‘Valerie’, Simon clobbered them: “It was terrible… I don’t know what’s going on in your heads right now… sort yourselves out… too many people were in your ears this week”. At the time we interpreted it as a shot across the bows for having somehow displeased producers backstage, and that’s still how it looks on a rewatch. There were, at least, saving graces: Simon ended by holding out the promise of redemption next week, and the VT cast the bickering as brotherly: Kieran’s answer was couched as a comparison with “real” brothers, and the “brothers” line was hit twice more in the VT. Bickering brothers is a less damaging vibe than bickering bandmates.

Whatever backstage issues it referred to, the message seemed to be received and understood, because by week 4 the VT had much more kindly intent – it featured Kieran showing off his girlfriend’s 12-week scan and promising to be a good dad. Simon praised the “personality” they showed in their version of ‘Thriller’ and Louis was back to namechecking them as finalists. Week 5 saw them pimped from the pimp slot for ‘Say You’ll Be There’, with a four-judge standing ovation. Simon claimed: “you just landed… so exciting, so impressive”, and Dermot’s always-on-message post-performance question was “you worked hard on this, didn’t you?”

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Dermot told us last week that all four semi-finalists had topped a vote at some point, and this seems the likeliest candidate for 5AM having done so, given that it was the first week of the Matt deramp.

Perhaps that emboldened producers to step it up a gear, because week 6’s VT again invited us to invest emotionally – this time in Nathan, to whose hard-working dad we were introduced. There was another sustained crowd reaction to their ‘Boogie Wonderland’ and ‘September’ mashup, something over which we assume producers have some control, by way of strategically placed tone-setting rabble-rousers; and Simon’s comments twice referred again to their “personality”; Louis mentioned the final again, and Dermot helpfully asked “you’re all very close to your families, aren’t you?”

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It was Jordan’s turn for the heartwarming family VT in week 7, as his folks invited the boys round for a chicken dinner and younger brother Caspian gave him a hug and an “I love you, bruv”. However, this time Simon put a dampener on proceedings, saying ‘Try A Little Tenderness’ only started to work with the dance break and they needed to put in more work on the vocals. After the show punters thought 5AM were in serious danger of hitting the singoff, and week 7 remains the hardest to figure out what producers were intending to achieve: were they still invested in Emily at this stage? If not, why did they waste the pimp slot on her? Hopefully the voting statistics will help us to reverse-engineer what was going through their minds with their treatment of Emily, Saara, 5AM and Honey G.

Week 8’s first VT saw Kieran’s brother and nephews turn up for another heartwarming family moment before ‘Uptown Funk’, which Simon praised as belonging to the “real world” – a phrase Louis repeated in their second VT. There were also a couple of red flags, however, as they watched a focus group discuss them. Nathan arguably came over a little sleazily in saying “I’m going to see her after this” as one focus group member blushed about letting slip that she’d like to get their numbers; then another focus group member said Jordan should do lead vocals, and we cut to Jordan nodding and Kieran saying “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. It was all in jest, but any hint of band discord is a risky move.

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The second song is more important in these two-song shows as it lasts longer in the memory: a weak first song can prove to be a set-up for redemption, or conversely a poorer reaction to the second song can create the impression that an act is going backwards. That happened with the judge reaction to the ‘Sorry’ and ‘One Dance’ mashup. The backing track gave them less vocal assistance. There was no standing ovation, and Simon’s “I don’t think that worked” undermined his subsequent, less-than-enthusiastic sounding claim that “this could be one of the strongest weeks you’ve had”. Louis said nice things before concluding with “I still want you in the semi-final”, a turn of phrase that implicitly acknowledged disappointment.

Had producers decided that their best chance of getting 5 After Midnight into the final was to accept a singoff appearance and work with the bounce? We know not all commenters accept the theory that producers sometimes acquiesce in singoffs for favoured acts, but it makes sense to us. Suppose, for the sake of argument, that 5AM topped the week 5 vote; did less well in week 6 despite huge positivity; and only just escaped the singoff in week 7. To get them to the final without a singoff would then have required massive pimping in both week 8 and 9, with no guarantee of success and some risk of backlash. Better, perhaps, to accept a week 8 singoff and flog the “reboot” narrative for all it’s worth in week 9.

Which is exactly what they did. The first VT pitched for sympathy after the singoff shock, by reminding us that Kieran wants to make his unborn child as proud of his parenting as Kieran is of his mum’s. Another huge audience reaction was whipped up for ‘Stay Another Day’, which had Nicole comically confessing she’d misheard the “stay now” lyric for “steakhouse” – she sang this a couple of times, and Dermot referenced it in his question. Is it too far down the rabbit hole to wonder if it’s coincidental that this mouthwatering subliminal came just after Simon had compared Matt to a butterless sandwich? Simon continued the food theme, contrasting the “vanilla” of “the first act” (Matt) with “an ice-cream sundae with cherries, tomatoes, oranges, bananas, everything”. (Tomatoes?)

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Returning in the pimp slot, their second VT went from reminding us of the “wake-up call” of the singoff to ticking the work ethic box as they debated their song choice and then into a Greatest Hits of 5AM family moments: Nathan’s hardworking dad, Kieran’s sacrifice-making family, Jordan’s younger brother looking up to him. Simon made a big thing of saying “something’s changed”, and concluded with “if I was voting at home, I would pick up the phone and say you deserve to be there” – a brutally damning line for his own act, Emily. “Was last week a wake-up call?”, Dermot helpfully enquired, just to make certain.

What seemed clearer than ever before was extensive use of the backing track for the trio. Most of their previous performances contained a weaker verse including solo parts, before joint vocals sounded beefed up in the chorus: ‘September’ in week 6 appeared to have a particularly strong wall of sound. This isn’t unusual in X Factor. The most-discussed historical example is One Direction, and there was discussion in the press this season about Ryan Lawrie’s ‘Twist and Shout’. But in 5 After Midnight’s week 9 efforts, it felt like both verse and chorus were enhanced significantly so that there was no light and shade in either number. The backing track vocals were dialled up throughout.

So they’ve got 5AM to the final. What now? That may depend on how close the semi vote was between Saara, 5AM and Matt. We know they succeeded in getting 5AM above Matt, so it doesn’t seem too implausible to imagine that they could do it again if they want to – although the final does tend to be somewhat more of a level playing field: there are opportunities for deramps, but we likely won’t see anything as direct as the “bland” or “butterless sandwich” applied to Matt in the semi. And it’s in the nature of sympathy bounces that there’s a comedown. So if 5AM only just shaded Matt in the semi, they may inevitably be destined for the third-placed finish their odds suggest.

But what if they were comfortably ahead of Matt, and reasonably close to (or even ahead of) Saara? Might producers think it’s worth trying to dampen Saara and push 5AM for the win? You could certainly argue that it’s incongruous, on the face of it, to have the longest odds available about the act which goes into the final off the back of most producer positivity in the semi.

And yet: Saara is one of the strongest singers they’ve ever had on this show, while the week 8 singoff revealed just how ropey 5AM’s vocals can sound when shorn of the assistance of the backing track. A 5AM win over Saara might elicit some “what a joke!” reactions – not the best of groundings for a commercial launch. Perhaps producers might be better off embracing the feelgood win for the female soloist? In the long run, it didn’t seem to do JLS any harm.

Having been linked with The Weeknd and three-fifths of the Spice Girls, 5AM are now rumoured to be duetting with Clean Bandit and Louisa Johnson on ‘Tears’. It’s a song we like, but it was hardly the most massive of hits, reaching number 5 in the charts earlier this year; and while Louisa has some positive connotations as the most recent winner, she hasn’t yet earned the right to sprinkle real-world stardust.

At the time of writing, that’s not officially confirmed. Nor, yet, are song choices for the first round reported on Tellymix: ‘Crazy In Love’ for 5AM, ‘Everybody Wants To Rule The World’ for Saara and ‘Take Me Home’ for Matt. As ever, let us know your thoughts and theories on what to expect below.

Photos via ©ITV

126 comments to X Factor 2016: 5AM’s Journey – From Brotherly Spats to Backing Tracks

  • GsP

    Having initially been worried about Saara’s choice, if she is doing the AGT version from earlier this year (perhaps tweaking the start of the song), and the do similar staging, it will be absolutely fantastic.

    It’s becoming less about the pure song choice, than what they decide to do with it. Making it much harder to read.

    5AM are a classic case of judges comments not matching what the viewer is seeing and hearing. Eventually it becomes too ridiculous

  • stoney

    I’m wondering if the delay on 5am duet is due to a wow factor when it comes out. I wouldn’t be surprised if they threw the lion share of the budget at 5am duet. Alternatively it could end up being craig david

  • Chris Bellis

    Agreed.
    Pity they don’t have the same rules as in Eurovision. No evident auto tuning, excessive vocal support etc.

  • lolhart

    Hello everyone. I used to comment on Sofabet fairly often, but I’m one of the many who has stopped watching the show. I still follow it to some extent out of curiosity and read the articles and comments here.

    I have to admit to being quite baffled that the producers / Syco seem so invested in 5AM. I guess it’s possible they could do a JLS post-show, but I think it’s unlikely. It’s even more unlikely they will be successful in Europe (JLS barely registered there) and I doubt the USA will take to them. If Little Mix are struggling there (and they can actually sing live), American audiences won’t be fooled by the smoke and mirrors from the live shows that hide 5AM’s limited vocals. Anyway, slightly off-topic.

    One thing I agree with is pushing for a 5AM win over Matt or Saara could backfire and provoke a negative reaction based on their vocal (in)ability. I remember thinking that was the same reason the producers put the brakes on Rough Copy in Sam Bailey’s year. I don’t think the public are stupid and have noticed what they are hearing and the judges’ comments do not marry up. Better have Saara as a feelgood winner with a decent voice and try and launch 5AM next year with some much needed polish.

    Anyway, I look forward to reading the analysis and comments from this weekend and the usual post-series analysis. Good luck to all those who will be placing a bet.

  • Curtis

    In fairness to “Tears”, 82 million views on Youtube for a song that didn’t really crack America isn’t a bad effort. The way the charts work now means that just seeing a song’s peak position isn’t a phenomenal way of seeing what was and was not a hit. I’d call it a big hit this summer.The problem here really is Louisa Johnson herself – I just don’t think X Factor alumni make great duet partners, it comes across as a boring choice. That, and she just doesn’t “sprinkle stardust” yet as you say.

    Looking at those song choices the only thing that really stands out is “Crazy in Love” looking like a poor choice for 5AM. I wonder if they’ll all have to wear garish dresses to sing it? “Take Me Home” for Matt is the most outwardly solid choice on the list, but it didn’t do Lauren Murray any favours in last year’s semi-final (but she sang it much better at judge’s house).

  • EM

    In Crazy In Love the line “don’t need to buy a new dress” might be problematic! Especially as it sets up the rhyme in the next line so it can’t be easily swapped for suit!

  • David Cook

    Daniel / Andrew – thanks for producing the three ‘journey’ articles this week. There’s obviously a huge amount of information and effort gone into producing these.
    It’s been very frustrating to watch and at times distinctly lacking in entertainment. Yet reading these articles makes you realize that it has been such an interesting series to follow compared to last year.

    • Spiidey

      Yes I’ll second that – I’ve run my own X Factor Prediction Game for 40-60 friends, family and work colleagues over the last 7 years and know the amount of time and effort it takes to analyse the show and pull this together into a coherent and interesting read (and you guys do it much better than I do).

      Many thanks for once again delivering great articles week in week out. This site adds a lovely additional layer of intrigue to the show.

    • Thanks David and Spiidey. There are always some bits of the earlier parts of the journeys that look different with the benefit of hindsight. Looking back, it feels like up to week 7 was relatively predictable – yes, the odd shock, like Gifty lasting only a week longer than Relley, but by and large the acts who seemed disposable did actually prove to be so. But since then it’s been not at all obvious what they’ve been trying to achieve – unless, of course, trying to make it not-obvious is what they’ve been trying to achieve!

  • Woofie

    I think what happens with 5AM in the final is going to be dependent upon the voting data. The issues with vocals have been known since day 1. Nicole’s comments on the first audtion point to that. I actually thought they were better presented last week in the semis. I do wonder that the audience gives them some slack. It will be interesting to see the voting statistics, top in disco week would strongly suggest that
    the vocals didn’t hold them back. The Boogie Wonderland mashup, in the dance break segment the backing singers take over completely.

    How things play out tomorrow will be interesting. To get the kind of audience  reaction we have seen does require some kind of build up, one or two slow and bland performances helps. I am not sure they will have that luxury in the final.

    I do wonder if they have got them as far as they can go, but if the voting data implies the producers can go further it will be interesting if they take that risk. If we take the Spice Girls story at face value, you do wonder if that was the producers shot to create a buzz for the group. If that has fallen through their plans may have changed?

    • EM

      The Spice Girls/GEM story is interesting.

      You don’t wait till you know the finalists on the Sunday evening before and then start trying to book world class acts for the next weekend. One would imagine they start the conversations 6 weeks to a month from the finals when they have a clearer idea who’s going to be there.

      So maybe some of the Spice Girls were lined up but then said no when it was 5am they would be with? Possible but I can’t really see who they would have said yes to?

      My understanding is they weren’t ever available which means the story is out there for some other reason, could be so that some of their star dust rubs off on 5am without them having to perform. Could just be a journalist making stuff up. As if.

    • Stu

      I think it’s worth remembering that Reggie & Bollie hoovered up 35% of the vote on the first night of the final – they were neither vocally talented nor the chosen one for the win.

      I think the producers learnt from their mistakes with Fleur this season. I’m on board with the theory of 5AM’s engineered bottom two in week 8 – if Fleur had fallen into the bottom two at the same point in her year, I think she would have had an almighty bounce with Uptown Funk, and may have ended up winning.

      Each of the finalists have polled above the others at one point or another so the producers will know what to do to get their preferred result.

      ‘Take Me Home’ helped prevent a bounce from Lauren last year, despite her vocally skilled delivery. Could we be looking at Matt out in third with votes transferring to 5AM?

      IF (and it’s a big if) 5AM are the ones being groomed for the win, don’t they stand more chance of winning by being in the final 2 with a vocal powerhouse whose vote is easier to control than a vocal powerhouse who embodies the typical XF winner?

      • David Cook

        But it’s also worth remembering who they were up against. Louisa who stood there like a tin of milk blasting it out every week without an ounce of nuance in her vocal, and warbling Che. Singers or not at least R&B had a bit of fun and personality about them – attributes in which the other two were somewhat lacking. That alone probably pulled in the votes.

        • Stu

          True but Louisa was pimped to high heavens all through her series, yet R&B still managed to get a large share of the vote in the final. As you say, a lot of voters opt for the entertainment factor over vocal acrobatics.

          I wonder if more attention needs to be paid to Little Mix’s journey re 5AM – after all, they are the only group to have won the show. Both groups’ performances have been met with criticism throughout the live shows yet both have received positive treatment overall. All other acts, bar Marcus who didn’t pose as a threat, were nobbled in LM’s year. Could we argue the same for this year?

          • Dana

            I think Reggie n Bollie were pimped almost as much as Louisa. I don’t recall any early slots or criticisms from the judges at all about them. They went pretty full on with them.

            RE: Little Mix- I think one advantage they had was their ability to give some impressive vocals at times- 5am can’t do this. Plus, their competition at the latter stages was very weak. There was Janet who had been relentlessly thrown under the bus for weeks, Misha B who had finished bottom of the vote 3 times and who the public just didn’t like no matter how hard they tried, Amelia who was parachuted in half way through the show and the very average Marcus who came very close to beating them.

            Then again, 5am did finish above Matt this week and it’s not hard to weaken Saara. I think they could weaken Matt or Sara to get 5am 2nd, but it would be tough to do it to both.

          • Stu

            I agree but Louisa was still portrayed as the deserving winner. I seem to remember R&B getting some criticism but admittedly it wasn’t much.

            There were many on here who couldn’t foresee 5AM bouncing above Matt last week, even post-show. Whether that’s down to underestimating the group’s appeal or the power of the producers, I don’t know. 😀 Maybe both! I honestly believe any one of them can win and it’s down to what the producers would like. They’ve run the show like clockwork this series! If they want a 5AM win, I can see them getting it… but that’s just me.

      • David Cook

        And it appears that 5AM are going to have Louisa as their duet partner. To be fair Louisa can sing and she’s got a powerful voice with a big range – but Saara is just in a different league to her altogether. In vocal terms Adam / Saara and Nicole / Matt are simply going to blow them away.

    • Marianne

      She didn’t invite him. He’d made plans to travel to London for the final along with Saara’s sister even before the semi-final took place just in case.

      • PolarNight

        It’s sort of invitation as she provides him tickets to her family/friends section.

        The ex-boyfriend has already visited once during the live shows (some weeks ago), but British media did not notice him.

  • David Cook

    We’re at the sharp end of the competition now, and I guess it’s pretty much like any other election – who can appeal to the widest section of the electorate.
    It’s clearly not about having the most ardent fans. I’m sure when Ben won, Fleur had many more fans who strongly supported her, but in the end she lost out because she couldn’t pick up wide enough support from the ‘floating voters’. I doubt many people went overboard about Ben, and yet he cast his net wide with a range of performances that were always good enough. Look at the voting figures – every week he increased his share of the vote and in the end he beat Fleur by a fair margin despite never really having a stand out performance.
    I do suspect that 5AM would be the preferred winners. But as with Fleur I just cannot see them getting over the line without some major string pulling which we’ve never seen in finals.
    So will Matt be this year’s Ben as people were suggesting earlier in the series. MOR decent looking boy with good enough voice. I think that misses the point. He sings better than Ben, and he probably started from a higher base point, but I’m just not sure he’s really done enough. It’s all been a bit too samey. Will he have managed to pick up enough of those transfer votes as the shows progressed.
    In a way I think it’s actually Saara who’s closer to Ben – starting lower in the vote, but gaining week on week with a range of performances which have slowly won people over. She started as the underdog but now they’re on her side. She’s stronger both vocally and in performance terms, but set against that she’s clearly starting from a much lower level of base support.
    I don’t know – I think it’s going to be close. But just for the headline I’m saying ‘Saara – First to the Finnish’

  • HL

    https://www.thesun.co.uk/tvandshowbiz/2364630/louis-tomlinson-mum-dead-johannah-deakin-poulston-dies/

    Did they plan a surprise duet with a hugely popular look-alike? It’s not funny anymore. Could they still use Louis to get all the sympathy votes? Sounds terrible.

  • Woofie

    I appreciate the views about 5AM’s vocals but they have topped the vote at least once and we’re top 2 last week in a field of 4. So there are clearly voters who are voting for them despite their vocal performances. The issue as I see it is about Saara’s vote. If she is indeed in the lead and has a commending lead over the others I don’t see how both Matt and 5AM can get above her even with producer support.  So it might be a case of giving 5AM every assistance but embracing Saara as the feelgood winner? Or opting to support Matt as the typical x factor winner?  Interesting that Louis Thomlinson is performing at the final what looks like an emotional performance dedicated to his recent mother’s passing.

    • HL

      “Interesting” is a lame word. Surely Louis can’t be Matt’s duet partner now? Nobody can compete with that tragedy, a freshly dead young mum with seven children. But if he really is going to sing as a solo tomorrow, then why not a duet, too? Please stop them using this for a new twist. It would be macabre and totally unfair to the other contestants. 🙁

      • Woofie

        I was commenting on the fact he was already booked to perform. I would be very surprised he would be asked or he would do a duet with a finalist. If he does perform im sure it will be a solo in honour of his mum that is not something that can be shared with anyone.

      • Jessica Hamby

        There is something a bit morbid and even self-indulgent about it in my opinion. I’m sorry for his loss but I think grief is a private matter and I don’t want to feel obliged to mourn someone.

  • EM

    It’s alright everybody, they’ve booked Madness to perform over the weekend, the show has been saved.

    • Martin

      Goodness me, I thought this was a joke aimed at the speculation of Louis Tomlinson duetting with a finalist. I’ve just seen it confirmed on the XF facebook page. I can almost hear the sound of the barrel being scraped as I write this.

  • Alan

    Doesn’t seem possible that we go into the final being able to make a case for 3 different winners and not really knowing who TPTB will throw their support behind. It’s a given that they will pimp 5AM but not clear whether this will be with the win in mind. To get the 5AM win I think they’ll need to pimp them (absolute certainty) but also try and dampen both Matt and Saara which I dont think they’ll do.

    If they give them all a genuine level playing field then I tend to think Matt might win as he seems the most likely to get beyond 50% of the votes.

    And then again they could well embrace the feelgood story of the underdog foreigner winning everyone over with her talent.

    In short I dont have a clue. The cynic in me wants 5AM or Matt to win as it makes predicting future winners easier. If Saara can win then really it just goes to show that anything can happen.

    • That’s interesting, I think the opposite. I think if Saara doesn’t win by a large margin it would make predicting future winners harder. Matt was slaughtered in the SF, even by 5am’s average performances. I’m not just talking about him being in the B2 but on all sm measures as well. Additionally he’s been given a dull song for tomorrow, unknown to the audience demo, a song with “previous” in getting rid of Lauren Murray. He has been rejected twice by duet partners so will probably have to suffer the indignity of dueting with his mentor (although vocally they’re probably a better match than Arthur). He’s had insinuations about:
      “caught getting down and dirty with individuals connected to this year’s series”; “They are a dirt bag”; “They knew that the live shows are the most important part of the series as they had so much to rehearse, but it seems they had a one-track mind”; “They are like dogs on heat”.

      Whereas all indications say Saara won w8 and w9 the SF and is riding on the best feel good journey they’ve ever had.

      If Matt were to come back and win from all that it would be unprecedented and throw future analysis into disarray.

      • Alan

        Yes I see what you mean. I guess I was thinking about the position after say the first 2 live shows when Matt looked nailed on and Saara was a rank outsider. A Saara win at that stage was pretty much unthinkable.

      • Jessica Hamby

        I agree Henry. I’m expecting Saara to win it at a canter tomorrow. Her duet should be streets ahead of anything the others have to offer and her performances should be too. She’s got the momentum and a lot of affection from the public, she’s got the huge homecoming gig. She not only looks like she deserves to win but genuinely does deserve to win, It would be madness for tptb to throw a spanner in the works now.

        They should be able to give every impresion of a fair competition, let everyone get out with their dignity intact and still get Saara clear across the line.

        • Re duets: Saraa’s was probably arranged weeks ago when they tweeted each other whereas it appears the other 2 acts have only just had their duets finalised in the last couple of days (well hopefully they have).

          • Jessica Hamby

            If that’s the case they may even have been able to collaborate online, send each other ideas, harmonies, vocal tracks to practice against etc.

          • HL

            I don’t think so. She/they may have asked him well in advance, but people are normally quite busy with their own projects. A month ago it was still pretty unlikely that Saara would even need a duet partner, and she definitely had her own hands full of work too. So no more time for practicing the duet than for any other song in the series. Probably less.

            But it must have helped to arrange this at a rather short notice that she was not asking for a moon from the sky but a singer who is an X Factor family member, has sung these duets before, has been watching the show and obviously liked Saara’s performances. He even had a Finnish boyfriend a few years back so he might have found it easier to warm to Saara’s personality than some random foreign people. A perfect match. 🙂

      • Why do you think Sam Smith declined to duet with Matt because of Matt and not for some other reason? Sam is between albums and might not want to appear because of that. Also, in recent pap pictures he looked really bad. He might have problems of his own. James Arthur … who knows.

        Also, spinning that GEM decided not to duet with 5AM because they are bad is really tasteless.

        I really hate that the show revealed potential duet partners before they were even booked.

  • stoney

    Expect the unexpected has been the running theme this series. Absolutely anything could happen. Its almost as if the producers have realised they aren’t going to get their millions of viewers back and are just having a play about between them while sitting down laughing at everyone on here trying to call which way it’s gonna go.

    • Jessica Hamby

      But this is the final. It’s a one-shot. It’s not like they have a few weeks to make a deramp happen so any criticism or weird and inappropriate staging / arrangements are going to really jar with the series long audience and really put off the people who just tune in for the final.

      I don’t think they’re pretty settled with they way things are. They’ll want to make sure Louisa looks good because they invested a lot of time and effort in her but they can’t do anything to damage Nicole or Paul Lambert either or they won’t get anyone to duet in the future.

      • Sindi

        Exactly. Their weapons are limited now. I suspect the Matt rejection stories are the biggest deramp of him they dare have.

        Still Matt might make it to sunday but I think they want someone else to win.

      • Jessica Hamby

        Correction – I should have said “I think they’re pretty settled with the way things are”.

        Any blatant deramp might achieve the desired result but it will bring the show into even more disrepute than it already is. Given that this year has seemed in many ways like an attempt at rehabilitation that would be crazy.

  • JM

    Saara said that her song “everybody wants to rule the world” will be completely different from the original because she has her own style and they definitely wanted to keep that style.Like the whole production will be very epic.And I love everything epic so it’s gonna be good!

    Those were her words exactly. But maybe you guys already knew that.

    It’s from the x-factor facebook (video where she was talking about it.)

  • I agree JM. Saara’s songs:

    It seems Bohemian Rhapsody with Adam Lambert. Dan Wootton was discussing it with her and she couldn’t confirm but didn’t contradict him. As Lambert is the front-man with Queen he has no choice but to make sure this is a stunning performance. The song lends itself to being cut down in time and this gives them a lot of leeway in coming up with something good.

    “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” is confirmed. She said on Lorraine today she’s going to do “her” version. I think, if she hasn’t come up with something better herself, it will be Crum’s America’s Got Talent version or something similar. This allows her to show her vocals and has a climactic ending. From Wiki “In the semifinals, Crum performed Tears For Fears’ “Everybody Wants to Rule the World”.[7] Mandel, Klum, Mel and Cowell gave Crum a standing ovation and he received enough votes to be sent into the finals.”

    Whatever version of “Everybody…” she does, she is continuing her winning formula of the two previous weeks – one fun theatrical song and one serious song.

  • stoney

    With all the comparisons of Matt and Louis looking like each other i wonder if Matt has kicked himself that he wasn’t around for the x factor the year 1d were formed. I imagine they are of similar age only matt has a much better voice

  • stoney

    I wonder if we will get a youguv poll in tomorrow’s sun. Pretty sure they sacked it off last year. Not forgetting the misleading one the year Ben won

    • Tim B

      YouGov stopped bothering with X Factor a couple of years ago after the viewing figures have dropped so much. I think they still bother with Strictly though.

  • Tim B

    It’s worth noting that the two-night final has always been won on the Saturday night. However, if this year really as close as they keep telling us it is, it might be possible that the Saturday night vote winner goes on to lose the final on Sunday. Let’s say Saara wins the Saturday night in a close vote by 3% over Matt in second place. Both Matt and 5 After Midnight are probably splitting the vote somewhat among the female audience. The vote transfer from one to the other after Saturday night could be significant enough to let Matt or 5 After Midnight snatch a victory from under Saara’s nose on the Sunday. Or Saara could end up coming third for all we know.

  • David Cook

    According to the XF app The Weekend is performing his single ‘Starboy’. Are they sure about this? Ofcom will be in meltdown if he does. Possibly the new single that’s been on the radio this week – the lyrical content of that must be OK if they’re playing it.

    • EM

      I reckon between a mainstream prime time TV show and international recording artist who has performed the song a good few times on tv they might just have that one covered

  • Dendrite

    The Tellymix Spotify Chart for Week 9 is (finally) up:

    1. Saara (Chandelier) 36439
    2. Matt (Say You Love Me) 28790
    3. Emily (It’s a Mad World) 14191
    4. 5 AM (Stay Another Day) 13825
    5. Saara (All I Want for Christmas) 13035
    6. Emily (Happy Christmas) 10079
    7. 5 AM (Signed, Sealed, Delivered) 8890
    8. Matt (Silent Night) 7226

    Crunching the numbers gives the following combined rankings:

    1. Saara 49474
    2. Matt 36016
    3. Emily 24270
    4. 5 AM 22715

    Things are finally looking bright for Saara – but how on earth did 5 AM manage to avoid Bottom 2?

    • Plenty of Saara’s streams are coming from Helsinki and other places in Finland

      https://twitter.com/ESCtips_Gavster/status/807363389655838720

      • Dendrite

        Interesting, as Spotify really is not such a big thing in Finland – this is, by and large, a YouTube country.

        • Sindi

          I disagree. Spotify is big in Finland.

          • Dendrite

            To be honest, I have never heard of anyone using it here, but I may be showing my age – most of my friends tend to be tech-savvy people who steer clear of anything remotely resembling a spy application (including Facebook, Twitter and Gmail), whereas kids these days seem happy enough to provide photos of their private bits in exchange for a better app.

      • Sagand

        I’d assumed that the X Factor tracks weren’t available outside UK Spotify, which explained why Saara didn’t have the same scale of lead she has on youtube and online polls.

    • EM

      “How on Earth did 5AM manage to avoid the bottom two?”

      Because Spotify plays are not votes nor are they analogous to votes. Also Saara’s numbers are inflated by overseas listens and so don’t give any approximation to her relative popularity in the UK.

      • Dendrite

        Yet, Spotify streamers are supposed to correlate well with 5 AM’s key demographic. As it turns out, they are not exactly doing well against anyone else, and Matt, in particular, has been receiving 59 % more streams this week (Saara’s streams, on the other hand, are irrelevant re: 5 AM’s placing above both Emily and Matt in the semi vote, as she was called safe). It would seem that 5 AM’s voters are more keen on looking at them than on actually listening to them (and there may, of course, be a valid reason for this).

        As for Saara, she was actually doing rather badly on Spotify charts until Week 6 (her YouTube views, of course, have been through the roof all along, so either Finns have been switching to Spotify or she has actually gained some new listeners). 5 AM, on the other hand, have been rock bottom in Spotify for three consecutive weeks now.

        • EM

          As I said you can’t read anything into Spotify streams regarding the public vote. And saying as you mentioned Spotify’s demographics they are at total odds with X Factor’s viewer demographics

  • David Cook

    Anyway I see Saara’s homecoming has finally found it’s way onto the app and the pics do look great.
    They also had an item for the journey of each of the acts. I’m sure there was one for 5AM up earlier, but it seems to have been removed.

  • stoney

    Up and ready to make the trip to london
    Last 2 finals ive been to ive been supporting Marcus and then Jahmene and both were under dogs with way less support than the favourite. Ill be cheering saara tonight, will be interesting to see how her support is in comparison to the 2 home grown opposition acts

  • stoney

    No voting leaks today then. Same as last year. Means they are happy with the vote from the semi final

  • Scott

    Two options which may happen by accident or design:

    Worthy winner final – when a really good singer ends up in the final against an act which is fine, but is then clearly destroyed when they perform the winner’s single. Done correctly this is Leona Lewis vs Ray Quinn (the runner-up is still clearly talented, just outclassed). Done incorrectly it’s Louisa v Reggie and Bollie (which just makes the franchise look a mess). Public then gets to sit back and go “Yep, we chose the right one, there’s still good people on this”.

    The best acts make the final – a controversial one this, seemingly, as it doesn’t happen very often. If Matt and Saara both made the final then you’ve got two performers who both have bloody good voices and can see the show out with some class, and 5AM can bow out with some credibility on the Saturday. Imagine a Chelsea v Arsenal final rather than Chelsea v Everton. (apologies to any Everton fans out there) Would restore some credibility for the franchise and play to the “anything can happen, closest final in years” narrative. Disadvantage is, famously, that producers lose control of the narrative, something they’re not fans of.

    Good luck everybody. The producers have succeeded in at least one thing – I could make a solid case for any of the remaining acts winning the show, whereas in previous years it’s been obvious to us weeks before who’s going to win. This series has as always suffered from blatant producer manipulation, and more people are spotted the wires behind the curtain these days, but if nothing else is beginning to restore an element of surprise.

  • Martin

    Happy final weekend one and all! I’m on the 5AM train, although not at large enough amounts to make a difference either way. Personally, as I expect with much of the rest of Saarabet, I’d prefer her to win but I don’t see it likely. I hope I’m wrong.

  • stoney

    Got my tickets gotta be in the arena for half 5. Pre recording of who i wonder?

  • Tim B

    I hope everyone’s getting their Final 1, 2, 3 predictions ready. Let’s save them all for the preview article though, yeah? That will be fun.

  • David Cook

    DS forum have picked up on an article on Betfair. Apparently punters should not back Saara as she’s the weakest vocalists of the three. 5AM have most to offer as they are the most versatile act.Matt is stratospherically better vocally than the other two.
    Is this really an unbiased opinion?

  • stoney

    Regardless of any meaningless betfair stories today saara Is the only one who has shortened with the majority of bookmakers today, including betfair

  • Plinkiplonk

    Ok, this may venture off-topic, but bear with…
    Firstly, I have compassion and feel sadness for anyone who loses a loved one, and I am very aware that each and everyone has their own way of coping with grief and loss, and that needs to be respected.
    However, I feel that Louis Tomlinson performing on the X Factor final on the day that his mum’s death from cancer is splashed across every single newspaper front page of the country is not going to come across well; I am predicting awkwardness of the highest degree. There is no way anyone would have thought less of him for pulling out, so I can envisage two scenarios here:

    1) He felt that he has a major opportunity to launch his solo career at the finals, and as that chance is not going to return for a while he has decided not to waste it.

    2) As above, only the argument has been strongly put to him by Syco/Sony/The X factor/Simon Cowell (delete as appropriate). That’s the version I would intend to favour, for it has the following advantages: he was obviously the unnamed star that has been rumoured, bit deflating to hint at a major surprise and then not follow through. In addition, there will be a flood of goodwill and compassion coming his way, and that can’t be bad for sales (cynical, I know, but don’t tell me they would be above that). Also, with Matt’s constant comparison to Louis is the early stages of the series I think his appearance would serve a secondary purpose. One could say that (as Louis can’t sing for toffee) Matt would look better by comparison, like ‘the new and improved version’ – don’t think that would be allowed tbh. On the other hand, Louis’ appearance with new material will suggest to all the fan girlies out there that there really is no need to vote for Matt, as the original is still around and releasing new material.

    Anyway, I am not looking forward to that particular segment, it’s sweet, I suppose, that he is dedicating his performance to the memory of his mother, but if they start showing images of her in the background a la R Wayne on that Peter kay spoof I will start throwing up…

  • Some interesting polling data here from @tvpolls. Probably best to take it with a pinch of salt though.

    NB. These results are BEFORE Saturday and Sunday Grand Final performances

    2. Who do you want to win The X Factor 2016?
    Answer Options
    Saara Aalto 35%
    Five After Midnight (5AM) 33%
    Matt Terry 32%
    100%

    3. Who’s your 2nd Favourite?
    Answer Options
    Saara Aalto 13%
    Five After Midnight (5AM) 44%
    Matt Terry 43%
    100%

    4. Who do you THINK will win?
    Answer Options
    Saara Aalto 42%
    Five After Midnight (5AM) 15%
    Matt Terry 19%
    DON’T KNOW 24%
    100%

    5. Who do you THINK Simon Cowell most wants to win?
    Answer Options
    Saara Aalto 28%
    Five After Midnight (5AM) 29%
    Matt Terry 16%
    DON’T KNOW 27%
    100%

    6. Who do you like the most Personality wise?
    Answer Options
    Saara Aalto 36%
    Five After Midnight (5AM) 47%
    Matt Terry 18%
    100%

    7. Who most Deserves to win?
    Answer Options
    Saara Aalto 42%
    Five After Midnight (5AM) 31%
    Matt Terry 27%
    100%

    11. If you watch Strictly Come Dancing, who do you want to win?
    Answer Options
    Danny Mac 35%
    Louise Redknapp 27%
    Claudia Fragapane 5%
    Ore Oduba 3%
    DON’T KNOW, I DON’T WATCH IT 30%
    100%

    http://tvpolls.co.uk/results/xfactor2016.asp

    I’m not behind @tvpolls, in case anyone is wondering.

    • Spiidey

      Reinforces the 5AM/Matt transfer vote (question 3).

      5AM the most likeable personality wise???!!! Well I never.

      • George

        This is why Emily getting the boot last week was so significant.

        If they really wanted to/thought they could push 5AM for the win, knowing how much of a stretch it already is they’d do anything to help them. What better than getting rid of their main demographic competitor?

        As it stands they risk Saara building an insurmountable lead tonight, unless they do their best to derail her vote but that’d leave a bad taste considering it’s the final. They’re probably getting extra eyes watching this weekend – better try to impress.

      • Dendrite

        I also found Q3 most interesting. I would have liked to see how the data splits down into different Q2/Q3 combinations, though. Also, the size of the non-random sample is missing.

      • Jessica Hamby

        Worth remembering it’s a self-selecting sample. There’s no guarantee at all that it is representative of voters as a whole.

  • Spiidey

    Saara now continuing to shorten for the win today, bet365 have her at 2/1 ON.

  • Tim B

    Woah, that’s a big crash on 5 After Midnight in the outright!

  • stoney

    Gotta be linked to duet partner

  • George

    I struggle to see Matt going out in 3rd as the market seems to think right now. He’s just too middle of the road to come last out of these three.

  • We already know their duet partner. I think it’s someone watching the dress rehearsals.

    • stoney

      Do we? Who are they signing with?
      That was a voting leak style plunge. All settled back down again now anyway

      • Well we’re not sure but since the TM article saying 5am still don’t know I have read in a couple of places that it is in fact Louisa etc. Nothing confirmed, that’s why I didn’t note or bookmark anything – someone here probably has something more concrete.

      • Mary

        Rumor has it that they are actually duetting with the Weeknd tonight. Believe it or not. https://twitter.com/CapitalEMNews/status/806399132499906560 Louis Walsh gave this Interview the night of their homecoming in Leicester.

        • George

          He says they “could” have the number one single at the moment, and at least if he’s talking about the UK then that’ll be Clean Bandit (with Louisa?)

        • That was tweeted 7:25am 7 Dec 2016, possibly about an interview the day before. The Weeknd pulled out reportedly, I don’t know if after or before that interview.

          Edit: I’ve just seen George’s post. I had assumed from Mary’s post Weeknd were No.1 but if Louisa/CB was No. 1 then then that’s it.

          • No. 1 is “Rockabye” (feat. Sean Paul)
            Clean Bandit & Anne-Marie.

            So this

            is still on.

            It’s brilliant imo.

          • Mary

            That’s correct. I absolutely agree, you are right. Clean Bandit have been posting cryptic tweets about a secret, as well, so I guess the rumors about 5AM teaming up with Louisa and CB are true afterall.

        • PolarNight

          It indeed sounds that the Weeknd might be having a duet with 5am. Roman Kemp just had FB live (on X Factor FB) where he interviewed the finalists. Jordan from 5am used phrases that may mean that they would perform with him.

          Roman: “Who you most like to see” (asking about the celebrity performers). Jordan: “Definitely the Weeknd. Like he is someone who really fits in what we do as a band. And someone we listen to. Can’t wait to hear what he has got”

          Regarding Saara’s ‘Everybody Wants to Rule The World’ song it sounds like it will considerably differ from the original. In the FB live Saara commented:
          “The first one will be really difficult. And it’s like the most challenging performance that I have ever done on the show vocally and also everything that is happening on stage. So I am a bit terrified, but I try my best.”

          She also mentioned similar during her homecoming gig on Helsinki that she is afraid and not sure if she can pull it off. That point we did know which performance she was referring to, but based on the FB live it seems she was talking about the ‘Everybody Wants to Rule The World’. Regarding her duet she mentioned on FB live that it is the thing she waits most for the finals & there has been only ‘couple’ rehearsals for it.

          I did not manage to get direct link to the FB live post. Seemingly requires logging in to FB to get it. But at the moment it’s the 6th item from top with topic “The X Factor was live — with lastminute.com” at https://www.facebook.com/TheXFactor/

          • Anna

            Gifty Louise also tweeted her support to 5AM and also reveals that they have something “amazing planned for tonight” … What could it be, a simple duet with Clean Bandit? I really don’t think so… After watching Jordan from 5AM on that facebook live, I’m starting to believe that the rumors circulating the past few hours are true and are coming from people who are at the SSE arena already. I think we are in for a big surprise tonight….

  • Dana

    I really can’t see the Weekend ever agreeing to duet with an X Factor contestant. I think I’d be less shocked if Steve Brookstein, Kate Bush and ABBA were revealed as the duet partners than him.Maybe they got another big name though.

  • stoney

    Despite the 5am plunge im sticking with my initial thoughts from the start of the dauy
    1.saara
    2.matt
    3. 5am

  • I don’t swear but for fuck sake, Honey G?

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