X Factor 2011: Audition Show 5

In yesterday’s audition show 4 review we pointed you towards Sofabet commenter Judge‘s useful X Factor site, which last year was the fastest in providing accurate information of pre-recorded segments such as bootcamp and judges’ houses, as well as song choices during the live programmes. His list of the four acts in the boys category that supposedly make it to the live shows includes two performers we had seen already – Frankie Cocozza and Craig Colton – and two more we saw last night: Marcus Collins and James Michael.

What with another strong performer in Amelia Lily also making an appearance, and seemingly set for the live shows (she’s currently second favourite in most bookmakers’ lists at a best-priced 7-1), the fifth audition episode arguably proved the most revealing so far.

However, if we take Judge’s information at face value, it throws up many more questions, first among them being: why are three out of the four qualifiers in the boys category from Liverpool?

When Craig Colton grabbed plenty of screen time and judges praise in the second audition show, I assumed that his cheeky Scouse chappie persona had something to do with it. In my opinion, he didn’t seem vocally confident enough whilst performing, so a winning personality and regional base seemed the main reasons for his supposed inclusion in the live shows (an achievement also suggested by a price that has come down from 40-1 to 16-1 in the last couple of weeks).

But yesterday, the second part of that theory went up in smoke as we witnessed two Liverpudlians who looked and sounded more like pop stars, and who are also rumoured to be through in the same category. In Marcus Collins, we have another entrant with a sunny Scouse outlook on life. 23-year-old Collins – former lead singer of Eton Road, a band he joined after they had participated in X Factor back in 2006 – was a much more finished article than Craig Colton, based on his soulful rendition of ‘Signed, Sealed, Delivered’.

Collins looks like someone who could easily shape into a contender. There was not too much wrong with his performance, he moved around the stage with ease and put his own stamp on the song. Whilst this means there is no journey of self-confidence, I think audiences are happier to reward self-assured boys than girls (think Olly Murs). And he suggested that the journey could instead be one of hardship to prosperity, his current job as a hairdresser not making him enough to shop in Marks & Spencer’s, as he endearingly explained.

Those who have backed him at a current best price of 14-1 may want to see less VT footage of the kind with which we were introduced to Collins, using hairspray on himself and explaining all the different hairstyles he has had. I had no problem with it myself, finding his self-assured nature refreshing, but there is a risk of it looking like vanity if the theme continues to feature, which could turn people off. Having said which, his clean-cut looks and sweet bearing are the kind of thing that goes down very well with teenage girls in particular.

In the shorter amount of time allotted to James Michael, he came across as a very different personality. Seemingly diffident in nature, he nonetheless has good looks and sound vocals on his side, based on his performance of ‘Make You Feel My Love’. We know far less about him than we currently do about Marcus, which may explain why at a best-priced 25-1 he is almost twice the price. Nonetheless, given that this show usually lays open its contestants from an early stage, he is a dark horse compared with many who have bared more (in the case of Frankie Cocozza, literally).

There is surely a lot more of James to be shown at bootcamp, and I can only assume that Craig must hit it out of the park to justify his elevation to the lives (or am I missing something from his audition? Maybe so – Sofabet commenter Allan still reckons Craig is best of the boys so far).

This brings me back to the question of why producers might decide to make three of the four of the boys category from the same region. Of course, it could just be coincidence, but coincidence is rarely a satisfactory explanation with this show. What other reasons could there be? Is the Liverpool vote so lucrative they are trying to squeeze it for every last penny?

Or maybe producers have spotted a local clash of personalities among the threesome, as in a Liverpool v Everton derby match, which they can exploit during the promised ‘Big Brother’ style intrusion into the X Factor house this year. Are there other possibilities? Your theories on the Three Scouse Boys Conundrum are most welcome in the comments box below.

Another speculative thought: add Cocozza into the mix, and you have a category made up of performers who are not exactly edgy or urban. This may leave a greater space for the rumoured boyband that includes Marlon MacKenzie and Derry Mensah which we speculated yesterday may be destined for some producer favour this year.

In the comments Panos reckoned we might be getting too fanciful, although I would say in response that this is the period where producers’ intentions are equally so, if the establishment of One Direction and Belle Amie last year is anything to go by. And anyway, one of the great joys of X Factor at this stage is to speculate creatively about what the programme makers might have in mind.

I still remain surprised that Lascel Woods from audition show four doesn’t even make Judge’s rumoured list of eight judges’ house performers in the boys category, and thus remain suspicious that something is afoot. Punters don’t seem to know what to believe, as Woods drifted out from yesterday’s best price of 10-1 to 20-1 this morning, before being backed in again to 14s this afternoon. (Market movements at this time can sometimes be revealing… and sometimes not). Whether we are right or wrong with our speculations about Lascel’s fate, we will find out soon enough.

Onto the girls now, and Amelia Lily had a very strong audition. She has youth, confidence, talent and looks that enabled her to make an immediate impression in tackling ‘A Piece of my Heart’, a more difficult number than many choose at this stage. Whilst not in the Joss Stone league, this was who she reminded me of most.

A place in the live shows seems guaranteed and uncontroversial – although with the yet-to-be-seen Melanie McCabe attracting strong support and the category already including Janet Devlin, Jade Richards and Misha Bryan, there is going to be at least one high-profile omission. The odds movements point to Misha missing out, as she has drifted to 25/1 at the time of writing, and Judge is hoping to have spoilers for us soon. We look forward to it.

Amelia Lily certainly offers a very different persona to her fellow 16-year-old rival in that category, and the only one to top her in current bookmakers’ lists, the shy Janet Devlin (currently a best-priced 11-2, which our commenter Henry8 feels is not value despite liking Janet’s prospects, a view with which I sympathise).

Amelia Lily’s confidence may work against her. She has no journey towards self-confidence or out of poverty to go on, nor any other obvious story at this stage. Of course, Matt Cardle last year showed that this is not necessary with more talent than one’s rivals, but as we have mentioned before, it is a template that the most successful girls in this competition (Leona, Alexandra and Rebecca) have all fitted. There are plenty of other examples of nice, normal girls with decent enough voices who have fallen by the wayside: Lucie Jones and Laura White spring to mind. Euan raises similar doubts about her vote-winning potential in his comment yesterday.

What do you think? Please do add your voice to the debate below.

24 comments to X Factor 2011: Audition Show 5

  • Boki

    My only conclusion from your analysis and from what I have seen is: they don’t want a boy to win this year.

  • EM

    I’ve said before I don’t think the X Factor producers care who wins as long as they have a top 4 or 5 with viable careers.

    Based on the past successes if I were them I’d be looking for a boyband in a JLS style, a big voiced female (Alexandra/Leonna) and cheeky chappie chappie (Olly)

    I’d add in a sensitive female type as the Ellie Goulding, Adele sound is selling well and that will be your top 4. Based on what we’ve seen so far that’s the Derry manufactured group, Mishca, Frankie and Janet.

    Time will tell!

  • Panos

    Excellent analysis as usual. Spot on for the boys/girls sexism. From my experience, I think a boy can afford to be self-assured and even profits from it, whereas girls gain from journies to self-confidence. So it’s 1-1 lets say, but I do feel the boys have the edge, because a boy with no journey but more talent than one’s rivals can still rise on top, though I am reluctant to say the same for girls. Both Leona and Alexandra had journeys. Would a female version of matt with no ‘Big Brother’ style interest have still won?

    James Michael gives me the impression of one of those boys who are let go in the first 4 weeks. I don’t think anyone in the final top4 was ever given such little coverage at audition stage. Unless he undergoes a transformation beyond imagination and which producers failed to predict.

    Craig Colton…well…the darkest horse of recent years was probably Joe McElderry: given above average but below contender level coverage at audition stage and I think was out of the top5 in the odds when they 1st show was aired. I had actually spotted him as my winner from the moment I saw his audition and bet a lot on him immediately, but I find it hard to believe that an outsider of that level or more is probable to immerge again. The closest to that this year I would say is, yes, Craig. He gives me a similar, but to quite a lesser extend, vibe as Joe. Likeable, very fast and cheeky in his replies, with a voice full of assurance which makes me feel comfortable that he will always have the tune under control and improve from week to week to a singer no1 probably forsaw. Like Joe…kind of. I would not go as far as to say he will be the winner, especially with so many good girls, but top of the boys or top4 is tempting…maybe if the odds drift some more!

    P.S. Maybe the producers don’t want a boy with a strong, monopolised regional vote to enter the top4 with so many good girl singer, especially when two of the girls are from ireland, so that vote could be split anyway. I suppose Jade is the winner of all this, we saw what the scottish vote did in 2007!!!

  • Andrew

    Hi Boki, Euan, Panos – have just rewatched Frankie Cocozza’s and Craig Colton’s auditions. I still suspect Frankie is there mostly in the hope that he will throw some meat to the tabloids by shagging around, and they will push him in proportion to how many potential conquests are left in. Am still not really getting Craig – vocally okay but not mindblowing, not exactly a commanding stage presence, not the best looker of the boy auditionees… all I can think of is he steps it up at bootcamp and/or he’s there purely on his wisecracking personality.

    Here’s a potentially interesting stat. On the ITV site, Frankie’s audition currently has 156 Facebook likes. Craig’s has 330. Marcus Collins has 3,000+, and Lascel Woods has 10,000+.

    • Boki

      Agree totally on Craig, he is the first to fall off from the 4 boys imho. Frankie is cute and that’s his main advantage but found the voice questionable. Agree also on Daniel’s dark horse James, want to see more of him…

  • I hear heat magazine have confirmed my list of boys through to Judges Houses with a pic of them today…

    • Daniel

      Thanks for that Judge. I decided to take the last of the 14-1 Marcus Collins on the basis that he’s the strongest performer in the category that traditionally does best. Given how likeable and accomplished he already is, he should have no trouble reaching the later stages of the competition, hopefully giving me the opportunity to hedge that bet if I feel like it.

      • Henry VIII

        Another Back to Lay consideration has to be Frankie Cocozza 20/1 at Corals and Sporting Bet.

        He’s built up quite a buzz (decent little Twitter following – best following of the contestants I think atm).

  • Ronnie

    Does anyone know anything about Nicole Simpson? She’ll be shown this coming weekend and after checking her out on YouTube she appears to be a contender for me. Only thing I’d say is that she doesn’t seem to have much connection with the song she sings but that will be drummed into her if she gets through boot camp.

    Everyone is talking up Melanie McCabe (who I have backed) but if someone was laying Simpson I’d want a piece at the right price – anything in double figures would tempt me.

    • Andrew

      Hi Ronnie, Just did a bit of digging and found her Facebook page
      which says “It was an incredible experience and amazing to get down to the last 19 girls” – suggests she doesn’t make it out of bootcamp.

      • Ronnie

        Thanks for that, Andrew.

        For me, Nicole not making the final eight girls highlights the strength of this category. Kelly Rowland will have a tough job choosing her four and I can’t guess who fails to make the cut if Melanie is as good as we hear.

        That said, I still haven’t seen better than Janet. I have held off backing her as yet as a plunge on Melanie over the weekend (following her standing ovation) should lengthen Janet’s price – a bit of 6s would be lovely.

        • Andrew

          I agree, strength in depth in the girls this year but I haven’t yet seen anyone I’d rather be on than Janet.

          I remember seeing some stories a while ago about Janet and Melanie supposedly becoming best of friends. If Melanie does make it to the lives, that might in theory mean that whichever of the two makes it furthest could pick up even more extra support than you would expect just from the Irish/Northern Irish thing.

  • Just added 3 of the 4 girls doing lives & another over to the list on:


    No idea what Louis is thinking (as if he had a say anyway)…

  • Justin

    In Mykonos for the weekend and apparently tulisa’s house is being filmed here as I write. Not sure if true of course but hopefully judge will be able to bring us some news in the next few days. Great stuff judge on the girls though my small bet on jade at 10/1 now looks in serious jeopardy!

  • Groups finished filming & back to the UK yesterday

  • Justin

    Ah thanks judge guess my news was out of date! Look forward to your updates.

  • Boki

    Guys, do you think Johnny Robinson is worth of back-lay of not? What would be his price on betfair anyway if he survives few rounds?

    • Daniel

      Hi Boki, I think it’s good to remember that only the occasional novelty act takes off like Wagner, and he survived quite a few weeks before his odds dropped significantly. If the rumours of who is in the Groups category are true, Johnny has plenty of competition in this field. He could be this year’s Wagner, but I’m inclined to think he’s more likely to face a similar fate to Diva Fever or Storm Lee, who both exited early last year.

      • Boki

        Thanks Daniel, I’ll stick to Goldy and David then (although David is not on spoiler list but I backed him a little anyway).

        The other thing that came to my mind is First To Lose All Acts, I saw you addressed this already in the show 6 review. Are we now really sure that Lois is mentoring overs again? If yes, it really looks he’s going to loose his acts first…

  • miskynoodle

    Hi judge,I read your write up and thinks i am ready to actually have a bet,what i can t understand is why James michael has had so little exposure and he s close to 4th favourite to win,according to online betting x factor,any ideas?.should i part with a few pennys on him?.

    • I don’t bet so can’t really advise…
      All I can say is I really don’t think the audition shows have anything to do with who will make lives, it’s more about entertainment than talent at this stage.
      Have a feeling bootcamp will be the same.

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