X Factor Final Post Mortem

Oh, to have been a fly on the wall in the production suite through Sunday’s final. It was only with the ridiculously over-the-top praise from the judges for Matt’s winner’s single that it became clear what the result was. His best performance of the series? Er, no. Not by a long way.

That level of hyperbole strongly suggested that the judges had been told Matt had it sewn up, and it was time to flog the single. Louis mentioned it was a Number 1 record – Rebecca’s last song got no such mention. And Simon Cowell looked gutted. This was not the result he wanted.

Once I had processed these comments as a signal Matt was indeed the winner, I waded into him on Betfair at prices from 1.6 down to 1.4, to finish up around £2,200 on the night.

But up till then, producers had been sending out mixed signals.

First the reprise seemed to favour Matt, with a well-chosen clip of his best moments with Rihanna, reminding us that it was the only duet with any chemistry. Then, unlike on Saturday night, he got an ad break after his first performance.

But the bottom line is that if the show had wanted Matt to win this, he wouldn’t have been singing first. He’d have been singing last, and he’d have been singing ‘First Time Ever I Saw Your Face’. The fact that this did not happen clearly indicates to me that producers were hoping to get Matt beaten right up till the very final stages.

Then it was One Direction on second, introduced by a slightly surpised and distracted-looking Simon. Had he been expecting Rebecca on before them, and – if so – was a change in the running order indicating to Simon that One Direction could no longer do it, so Rebecca was now getting the pimp slot? Simon’s look could have been a complete coincidence, however.

(I laid out on Friday a couple of reasons why I thought the show would probably prefer a Rebecca win if they couldn’t manage it with One Direction, whom we had long considered to be their Plan A).

One Direction’s ‘Torn’ was much worse than their judges’ houses version, which was a touch slower and featured just their vocals. It looked to me, yet again, an example of producers shooting the boys in the foot by insisting on cranking up their backing track – a phenomenon I remarked on last Wednesday when explaining why I’d ditched our pre-live-shows speculative prediction of One Direction winning, and was instead switching to Matt Cardle.

Just before One Direction’s departure being announced, the mysterious Abigail88 posted on the Digital Spy forums that her source had told her Rebecca was third. That will have pleased her many detractors (and, while we were intrigued by her record up until this rather spectacular copybook-blotting, we have, of course, always advised having the salt cellar on hand).

I was confident Rebecca wasn’t going to pip Matt, having thought her Saturday performances to have been weak, but the comments after Matt’s winner’s single sent me straight to Betfair. They sounded like an admission of defeat. This was confirmed by comparing them to the comments for Rebecca’s song.

I think justice was done in the end, even if Matt wasn’t at his best for the final few weeks. He provided the best two performances of the series in ‘First Time Ever I Saw Your Face’ and ‘Hit Me Baby One More Time’, and was the most versatile performer.

Stay tuned on Sofabet, because we should be getting the week-by-week voting statistics released on the X Factor site soon. We’ll be analysing these and hoping you’ll continue with your insightful comments on our articles. And, of course there’s the Strictly Come Dancing final next weekend.

What did you think of the result? Let us know in the comments box below.

5 comments to X Factor Final Post Mortem

  • Euan

    Thanks for the insights over the past few weeks, it has been the most intelligent and illuminating X Factor site going.

    I’ll pick issue on a couple of points though. I’m not sure you will see the voting figures revealed this year as the Mary/Cher change of plan is still such a hot potato. Also come this weekend I’m not so sure the producers care who wins. As has been seen on previous years winning is by no means a guarantee of any kind of success.

    I think they care about keeping the ratings going all series. Remember Cowell works in music and the only way you make serious money there is with internationally successful albums not Christmas number ones.

    Anyway that’s splitting hairs, you guys have been immense and insightful. More power to you.

  • Euan

    Stop press looks like I was wrong http://xfactor.itv.com/_uploads/userassets/files/vote2010.pdf

    Stop more press Abigail was ALWAYS wrong! http://xfactor.itv.com/_uploads/userassets/files/vote2010.pdf

    However as widely predicted Mary did beat Cher last week by quite a bit

  • Andrew

    We were on the case, Euan! 🙂 See a new article just posted. Thanks so much for your kind words, and for your great comments over the weeks. Roll on next series!

  • Leroy Cain

    Presumably the final 1-2-3 result was the exact opposite of the producers’ wishes. Despite all the tricks and pimp slots for 1D and Cher over both the Semi and Final they were not good enough vocally to pick up floating voters and make any significant headway. I can’t help but feel that 1D would have faired better with Dannii or Louis as their mentor which would have helped to avoid any anti-Cowell sentiment. People do not like having opinions rammed down their throats and I think the tricks and excessive fawning over the boys was both misjudged and obviously telegraphed. By pushing too hard it simply back-fired on the producers.

    Meanwhile, Matt triumphed despite being shoved out first or second in every round from the start of the Semi final: they very clearly did not want him to win. This was also obvious with Cowell’s dismissive attitude to Matt’s sore throat and ill health after he struggled rather in the Semi. His strong core support remained unwavering, though, despite the odd blip of performance or media attack in the final few weeks.

    I disagree slightly, Daniel, with your assessment of the winner’s song. I thought it was easily Matt’s best performance since ‘White satin’ and his song was better judged, better suited to his voice and better performed than Rebecca’s version. Perhaps performing it first was actually a blessing this time as it gave supporters more time to vote for the final push – in any case it probably got him over the line. I certainly do agree that there was a very sudden change of emphasis from the judges and they went from ‘downplaying, nondescript, “you deserve to be in the final” platitude mode’ to OTT in their praise and full steam ahead in the ‘flog the CD mode’. It was a clear lump money on Matt moment…

    What was heartening, however, was the fact that these were the final two left in the competition. As you pointed out in your ‘Wagner won’t win’ blog, the British sense of fair play kicked in and comfortably the best two vocalists in the contest fought it out. From a betting point of view this can only be good news and we can ultimately look beyond the weaker, less talented, media-hyped acts and be fairly sure that the cream will rise.

    Finally, Daniel and Andrew, thank you very much for this excellent and refreshing site that cuts through the hyperbole and sees things for what they are. It has been near-essential reading and I really look forward to more in the future.


    • Andrew

      Cheers, Leroy. You’re surely right that they pushed too hard with 1D, in retrospect. Ah well – you live and learn…

      Given how clearly they didn’t want Matt, I’m now a bit surprised that they didn’t try to chop him off at the knees earlier. I wonder if they were so busy assassinating Wagner in week 8 that they took their eyes off the ball with Matt, not expecting ‘Nights in White Satin’ to be as good as it was? That was what cemented it for him, I think – he’d been losing a bit of momentum in weeks 6 and 7.

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