X Factor Final Update: One Direction Thrown Off Course?

A couple of days is a long time in X Factor. In articles earlier this week, Andrew explained why he was still backing One Direction and I justified why I’d switched allegiance to Matt Cardle

I still hold to that view, but both of us worked on the assumption that producers would be doing all they could to help One Direction this weekend – and confirmation of the final duets has stunningly overturned that assumption.

Their pairing with Robbie Williams strongly suggests that producers have given up on the boyband. Saturday will tell us more, but at the moment it looks to us like Rebecca is the one producers now want.

The One Direction duet with Robbie seems unlikely to boost their popularity for a number of reasons. Robbie is a busted flush who has performed badly for his last three appearances on X Factor – this year with Take That, partnering Olly Murs in the 2009 final and performing as a solo artist earlier in that series.

Quite why producers would want such a tainted product – a man renowned for hard-living and who walked away from his own group – next to the squeaky-clean emerging boyband, is hard to fathom.

It is so wrong on every level that I can only conclude producers have seen the voting figures and decided that One Direction have no chance of winning. This kind of pairing can excuse them failure in the final before Simon Cowell starts flogging their records.

Matt hasn’t been so fatally hindered by a pairing with Rihanna, especially as she is arguably the biggest current artist of the four established acts. There are a few of her songs on which I can see Matt shine, ‘Russian Roulette’ being the one that most springs to mind.

Matt won’t be sung off the stage either by his established pairing, but I am yet to be convinced that their voices will harmonise well. Rihanna is a very different style of singer to Matt, whereas I felt that Christina Aguilera’s ability to change pitch would have suited Matt better.

On his own, Matt is also rumoured to be performing his audition song of ‘No Good’, which he did perfectly well, but it gives him less less opportunity to provide a goosebump moment than either ‘First Time Ever I Saw Your Face’ or ‘Hit Me Baby One More Time’.

Rebecca, on the other hand, will apparently sing her first round song of ‘A Change is Gonna Come’ which suits her voice very well indeed.

The fact that Christina has been saved for Rebecca suggests to me that producers would prefer to see her win than Matt. There are two highly plausible reasons for this. Firstly, Rebecca has more of a “journey” to sell – the shy single mum as opposed to the privately-educated indie band frontman.

Secondly, in Rebecca they have a more malleable personality. Matt is more likely to get all Steve Brooksteiny about artistic integrity, while Rebecca is more likely to uncomplainingly sing whatever they tell her to.

Rebecca’s duet with Christina could go either way. Christina could choose to gracefully allow Rebecca the chance to shine as much as possible. The Liverpudlian has a limited vocal range, but within that can sound distinctive and warm. The American star, on the other hand, has a huge vocal range, and can be an incredibly powerful live singer, which could expose Rebecca’s limitations. We will see.

Meanwhile, Cher gets will.i.am, as we and plenty of others predicted, and this won’t be a gamechanger for anybody, although she does allegedly get to revisit her best moment of the series by performing her audition song of ‘Turn Your Swag On’. (One Direction will reprise ‘Torn’, which they performed well at judges’ houses and is another good choice for them.)

Depite this, Cher still looks likely to depart first, though we now have confirmation that there will be a further elimination before a vote on the final two. The duets indicate producers expect that to be Matt against Rebecca, but as Hanna commented earlier this week, an unknown and important variable at present is the “winner’s” song each will perform as their single resulting from success this weekend.

If producers want to do a lot for Rebecca, they could make this as suitable for her as possible, less so for her rivals. Using the same logic, we at Sofabet now predict a running order of something like Matt-Cher-1D-Rebecca.

Of course, we’ve been proved wrong before, and Saturday’s show will make everything much clearer. What we’re going to be providing is the following: a profile of the final four tomorrow, our usual Sunday update and a post-mortem on Monday.

Good luck to everybody, and let us know your thoughts in the comments box below.

4 comments to X Factor Final Update: One Direction Thrown Off Course?

  • i said on wednesday 15-8 matt and rebecca 1-2 in any order at paddy power was the best bet id ever seen on xfactor and now im super confident its best price 4-5 now i hope u all lumped on and i agree its plab b 4 the producers and mr cowell 2 champion rebecca whether they can pull it off is another matter if rumouerd and they dont sing they fav performance ov the series then rebecca has a huge chance as that will stop matt sing the first time i saw your face which 4 me would win him the show also is anyone whos a likes betting big on odds on shots taking 1-4 cher been first out it looks nailed on 2 me and singing with william or whatever u call him anyone over 30 wont even no who he is if she starts being little miss attitude and cocky as normal il b tempted i av a monster bet on rebecca at 7-1 and im starting 2 get very exited for me rebeca wiil win it unless matt gets 2 sing his fav song ov the series come on rebecca sing ur heart out happy punting

  • hanna

    with what is known at this point i still think One Direction is favored to win, Rebecca as solid back-up plan. And i’m sad to say that I actually think they have a chance with how everything is set up…

    It’s almost certain Cher will go on Saturday night, as first eliminated. Being in the bottom two shows she has a smaller fan base, Mary’s votes will redistribute mainly between matt and rebecca, maybe some irish for one dir (-niall) ;). But with her audition song and will.i.am duet she’ll probably go as she said, with a bang… and I wouldn’t worry too much cause she does have a good chance of a career afterwards (better then contenders from previous years eliminated at this stage).

    First ‘helping hand’ for One Dir to win is actually this, making Sunday a three way race (i read somewhere that there will be another elimination on Sunday, but the votes won’t be nilled for the final two, i’m not sure though how that works). Cher’s votes will almost completely transfer to One Dir, whilst Matt and Rebecca will divide their mostly common fanbase… So for final two it will be the boys and Rebecca/Matt . Although Matt’s been the favorite I also agree with the reasons you mentioned why Rebecca is preferred to do well in case plan A (OneDir) doesn’t work out. If indeed the audition songs are performed, Rebecca can get a boost of popularity ahead of Matt, but I’m not sure she can top ‘First time I saw your face’ if Matt gets to sing it again as a season favorite or as anything else. I also agree that the duet pairings can go either way, I actually think Matt and Rihanna can be very original and interasting sounding, whilst Christina helps Rebecca more with her name – as a ‘wow it’s christina aquilera ‘ factor, cause actually their vocal strenghts are very different, as you also noted. One of the silly little details that can give Rebecca the edge over Matt is the mentioning of Steve Brookstein here and there, people actually started drawing a comparison the two.

    I now not many share this opinion. but I actually think Robbie Williams will work out just fine for the boys and I think their winner single will sound just as most people expect a winner single to sound. And while I absolutely love Duffy, and Distant Dreamer too I am a bit worried that while it’s gorgeous as an album track it’s not powerful enough for a debut-destined-to-be-Christmas-number-one single, it will be a bit like Amazing Grace by rebecca – spine tingling, but a bit one-dimensional, nicely picked up but not really going anywhere.

    It would be nice if I was wrong. I genuinely hope I am .
    Let’s hope the arrangements of the songs will are done to favour her, cause I think Rebecca’s the one who really needs to win to get anywhere afterwards. One Direction and Cher will be signed anyways, Matt has a good enough fighter instinct I find to elbow himself a place on the music scene later if he won’t be signed right away.

    Ooops, this comment turned out a bit too long, sorry.

  • Dave

    I’m with Daniel on the Robbie Williams issue. If I’m not mistaken Robbie is a fair bit taller than the OD lads and there’s huge potential for him to look like their creepy uncle on stage with his mad staring eyes and over-the-hill-but-doesn’t-know-it attitude.

    On the other hand, Will.i.am has frequently said that he loves what Cher is about and I can imagine that of all the guest stars, he will invest the most effort to ensure that his duet is a good one.

    I doubt that either Cher or OD will win, but the next elimination odds for each of them seem to offer great value, especially if the producers really have deserted OD (whose exit would leave Simon free to champion Rebecca).

  • Eloise

    Dave, that’s a good point about Cher. I do think it’s great that she will perform her audition piece oncemore, as over 20 million views on YouTube makes it one of the most watched clips of the series, and will remind everyone of its initial impact and why so many people liked Cher.

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