X Factor 2011: Audition Show 7

The final audition show proved a damp squib for punters and viewers alike. It lacked any potential contenders and there was barely a ripple in the market, with the pretty awful Terry Winstanley at 50-1 doing best in bookmakers’ lists among the show’s performers. It would be a surprise to see any of them in the lives unless one or two of them join a group.

Talking of which, tabloid headlines suggesting a cull of contenders in the groups section at judges houses due to ‘romping‘ have thrown this category into even greater confusion. Among those eliminated at this stage, according to Judge’s updated spoilers, are allegedly the urban boyband featuring Derry Mensah and Marlon McKenzie (which we had speculated could be a good match for mentor Tulisa) and the only group who have made any kind of dent in the betting during auditions, The Keys.

Another red-top story that required some reading between the lines indicated that a leading contender had failed at the bootcamp stage due to losing his voice with laryngitis. Internet forums have understandably come to the conclusion that this was most likely to be Lascel Woods, although there seems to be no confirmation about his bootcamp fate or that of show 6‘s impressive John Adams.

With these rumours swirling around, there seems little clarity for punters despite the fact that we have now seen every televised audition. So should those looking for a flutter just wait and see?

There are two sides to this argument. There is certainly a good case to hold fire until we learn what bootcamp throws up – it was here last year that Matt Cardle was catapulted to favouritism based on his rendition of ‘First Time Ever I Saw Your Face’. We also saw the creation of two new bands, including One Direction, who eventually placed third. So if we wait a week, we get to see which of the auditionees display some versatility, and what is the composition of the new groups (more on this below).

But with bookmakers going 13/2 the field yesterday, showing that they are equally clueless at this stage, there was arguably some value to be had. In uncertain times, those who play the stock market gravitate to ‘safe havens’ such as gold or German bonds. Using similar reasoning, the Sofabet team took the last of the 13/2 on Janet Devlin after last night’s show.

Janet is now a best-priced 6/1, the same kind of price she’s been since her audition stole the very first show. And while we have repeatedly said we thought those odds were skinny while there was still time for other contenders to emerge, we now reckon they look pretty reasonable (Sofabet commenter Ronnie was waiting for such a price only a week ago). Janet seems the safest bet at this very early stage. She should be in the final half-dozen at least.

This is partly because there seems likely to be plenty of padding among the final 16. The overs category looks very weak once more, with three pantomime acts listed by Judge and a dearth of credible talent to complete the foursome (commenter Annie points to rumours that soldier Jonjo pips barmaid Sami, but these do not come with the provenance of Judge’s track record).  This means a quarter of the field for the live shows can immediately be discounted as potential winners.

The groups category also seems to be struggling to find plausible contenders. Remarkably, in all seven audition shows, only one group have entered the betting at less than 50/1 (a capella outfit The Keys) – and they are said by Judge to have been eliminated at judges’ houses. Apart from another pantomime act who Judge says are in the lives, Essex girls 2 Shoes, this category is looking distinctly murky.

Bootcamp will, of course, tell us a lot more. Judge’s list has a manufactured girl band going through, as well as a manufactured boy band featuring Stefan Romer (thanks to tpfkar for pointing out that the surname is Romer, and not Ramos as had previously been thought). The identity of the fourth group remains even more mysterious.

We are, however, struggling at this stage to discern any rabbits that might be lurking in Tulisa’s hat. Stefan Romer’s audition got all of 37 seconds of screentime – a far cry from the full-on treatment afforded to One Direction members Liam Payne and Harry Styles in last year’s audition segments. With Derry and Marlon allegedly out of the frame, there does not seem to be too much scope for producers to stitch together a group of auditionees who are high enough profile to enter the lives with much momentum.

What are producers thinking? Regular readers will know that we have, throughout, worked on the assumption that producers will not want to embarrass Tulisa by lumbering her with four no-hoper acts. We have assumed that they must have at least one credible act for her up their sleeves, and presumably something “urban”. This thinking informed our view – shared by commenter Mark – that Louis was worth a punt at 7/4 to be the first mentor with all acts eliminated (that best price is now 6/4).

But with it becoming increasingly unclear where this credible group might be coming from, another highly speculative thought occurs: Would it be far too cynical to wonder if producers might actually welcome an embarrassingly early decimation of Tulisa’s category, as this could then be followed by parachuting in Cheryl to replace her midway through the lives? It would be a highly controversial move – we at Sofabet are far from alone in having enjoyed Tulisa’s judging a whole lot more than we ever enjoyed Cheryl’s – but controversy is the lifeblood of the show.

This is rather wild speculation, however. Returning to the firmer ground of the girls category, it seems clear that Kelly has easily has the most strength in depth. Judge alleges that Misha, Amelia and Janet are three of the four finalists in this category. They seem most likely to be joined by either Jade or Melanie, with bookmakers currently favouring the former after Melanie got surprisingly little screentime on Saturday. Any combination of four among these would be respectable contenders.

We think Janet is the safest bet of the four, at this stage, as her appeal currently appears to be the most universal and she has the classic journey towards self-confidence to go on – a feature of each girl to reach the top three in previous series. Her appearance in the first audition show, and the way she featured last night in the montage of highlights from this segment of the competition, also suggests that producers are investing heavily in her; as Euan’s excellent analysis a few weeks ago pointed out, the winner and runner-up have most often come from the earliest audition shows.

While the girls dominate the betting, punters thinking of piling on Kelly as winning mentor should bear in mind that not since 2005 has the final 5 contained more than 2 acts from the same category. That will surely be no accident – rivalry between mentors is integral to the appeal of the show, and producers will naturally hope to ensure it continues down to the wire. It’s a safe bet that producers will not want a final weekend comprising only Kelly’s acts.

That means we can expect producers to try to ditch at least a couple of Kelly’s acts before the business end of the competition. We are suspecting, therefore, that the girls category may see one or two “shock” early exits (indeed, it is often a girl who suffers this fate – Lucie Jones and Laura White spring to mind).

It also means there may be some value elsewhere as a result. With the overs looking hopeless and the groups still impenetrable, it is therefore to the boys category that we must turn – also the category that traditionally does best.

I think two of the boys who Judge has going through to the lives – Craig Colton and Frankie Cocozza – simply aren’t vocally strong enough to be contenders for the win.  James Michael is a dark horse (and has been backed in from 25/1 to 16/1), but his paucity of audition screentime does not suggest producers have especially big plans for him.

A process of elimination thus leaves us with Marcus Collins, which is why I took the last of the 14/1 on him during the week (he is now a best-priced 12s). From what we have seen in auditions, he is easily the most accomplished performer among those in this section that have allegedly got through to the live shows.

This weekend’s bootcamp episodes should be a lot more revealing than the last two audition shows, and a stellar performance from a hitherto less-heralded act could turn the market on its head. Punters can be forgiven for waiting to see what this stage brings, but the danger of such a strategy is that you may see any value disappear before you take a chance. Which is why I have dabbled with small sums on Janet and Marcus, who I consider to be the two most obvious contenders at this stage, and at a decent enough price.

As ever, please do let us know what you make of this reasoning – and share any emerging news – in the comments box below.

15 comments to X Factor 2011: Audition Show 7

  • Panos

    daniel, i totally agree about your janet opinion and tha value present in at least one of the boys being in the top 4, and I have been acting upon this. I think Frankie may have a similar fate to LLoyd Daniels and do better than he deserves but miss the final. I suppose the first boy exiting might end up being Craig afterall. However, in terms of the top-placed boy (i.e. the one defo in the final), I am finding it hard to envisage Marcus being that. The top placed boys have traditionally presented us with a combination of great talent and a huge fanbase of adoring teen girls (see Matt, Joe, Olly, Danyl, Leon), or just the girls factor (sorry Eoghan, Ray)! I think Marcus defo has the talent, but will not have the girls fanbase similar to anyone above I suspect. We don’t really have an example of a boy with just a great talent goin far from previous series (e.g. Paije only came 8th) and the closest comparissons I can draw are with Ben Mills, but still maybe a far fetched comparisson. Can Marcus be the top placed boy? On the other hand, I think no eventual top4-er in the past has been given such little coverage at the audition stage as James Michael, so I will never be confident enough to back him heavily. I just can’t see through the boys this year!

    • Daniel

      Hi Panos, you make some excellent points here. Looks-wise I can see Marcus and James having their share of fans, though you could be right that Frankie may go further than his vocal abilities indicate. Lloyd Daniels is indeed a salutary reminder of how far a cute boy can go without top-notch singing, though he also had a regional base to rely on, and Frankie lacks that.

  • Rob

    a few thoughts on the lads because its good to kick them around to see what others thinks.
    Frankie Coccozza
    this lad has limited vocal range but will appeal to the girls who i think are the highest voting demographic. on talent alone should come nowhere but with good management and song choice could do an olly murs. i don’t think he’ll get that far but i’ve taken a small stake @23.0

    Craig Colton
    good voice and just enough difference from everyone else to be distictive. should garner a few fans and go a few rounds. however i think he has limited appeal and will bow out a la paige richardson in mid table.

    James Michael
    has had limited air time so we don’t know how good he is. i like his laconic style and is the closest this year to matt cardle. but he’ll need to build up the most momentum with some decent air time in the next couple of weeks. he’ll appeal to the gals and he’s from the north west so gary will want him to do well. i’ve seen enough to take small stakes @26.0.

    Marcus Collins
    On air time looks the most talented but for some reason he’s not impressing me. his talent is not so far ahead of the others that i can see the female contingent voting for him ahead of franki and james. to make an impact he’s going to have to show the ability of joe mcelderry so i’m adopting a wait and see for him.

  • Steve

    Wouldnt be so dismissive of Frankie yet, he was put through in show 1 which indicates he was likely final 16 before judges houses, as was Craig though. His performance at bootcamp was reportedly very good and the early comparison to Robbie Williams another big plus. He is seen as an entertainer, having said that Marcus looks more likely, he got a decent segment in the show and was again shown before the final decision was made, for me he is the strongest of the boys. Ladbrokes 12/1 1/4 odds 1,2,3 effectively gives you 3/1 top boy as the top boy has never finished outside of the top 3. I would have him about 2/1 for that 3/1 Frankie and Craig 4/1 James who is obviously an afterthought.

  • Rob

    i didn’t mean to be dismissive of anyone as its just based on limited information. something i didn’t mention though is of course about who the producers want to win? who is the most marketable in the above 4? again i’m not seeing marcus in that scenario atm (he’s certainly not Plan A)… but as i say things can (and do) change!

  • geoff

    Rob i think you got it pretty much spot on with this years boys.

    to be honest i dont see any of them being good enough to win aparf from maybe james but hes got other problems of no airtime.
    if i was going to go for one of the boys i think id pick frankie cocozza for the ollie murs cheeky chappie vibe

  • Ronnie

    So,we have now seen what the competition has to offer and I still feel that Janet Devlin is the strongest contender. As Daniel said, she has mass appeal – that ordinary girl next door vibe who will grow as in confidence as she progresses. Janet also has a regional vote in N.Ireland. I have read views that Ireland would be split if both Janet and Melanie make the lives but people must remember that they are from different countries!
    I can’t see much competition coming from the boys this year unless James Michael is shown to be a contender in the coming weeks. I just don’t see Craig or Marcus having much appeal and Frankie will irritate as much as he entertains – he could be that little bit too cocksure for some.
    I had already backed Melanie and hoped that she’d get more of an airing on Saturday so that Janet would drift. As it turned out, Janet drifted anyway so I managed to get a bit of 13/2 while it was there and have topped up at 6/1. All this has gone with the main bookies now but if you go to http://www.youwin.com you can still get a bit of the 6s if you are quick.
    I have also had a little more on Melanie at 18s. I had previously backed her at 20s and 16s and although I can’t be sure she’ll make the live shows, it is possible that she may being kept under wraps in order to oust Jade in dramatic fashion at judge’s house – I can only hope!

  • Andrew

    Some more boys thoughts for you, Rob:

    Frankie – could conceivably come into play if he shows more vocal ability at bootcamp, as Steve says. But am not covinced by the Olly Murs comparisons – I share Ronnie’s concerns that he could prove to be too cocksure for the taste of many. I don’t think Olly really had that vibe – he had a little bit of the loveable loser thing going on (still living with his parents, deadend call centre job etc), which I think made him a more sympathetic character than Frankie has so far appeared to be.

    Craig – still not getting it.

    James Michael – afterthought or slowburn? That is the question. Does the relative lack of audition time indicate he’s going to be John Adeleyed, or are producers planning to build him up gradually? Not out of the question, but it’s not a well-trodden path – as Panos says, hard to remember anyone who turns into a contender after such a brief audition. Really don’t know what to make of him at the moment.

    Marcus – clearly comfortable on stage and vocally solid, which I think does count for a lot. One possibly interesting thing about the hairstyle VT segment is how it suggests an ability for self-reinvention – I can imagine the makeup and costume people having fun with him, a la Rhydian.

  • Rob

    some thoughts on the girls and then i’ll state what i think is the single most important attribute (after singing ability (or even maybe before)) for winning the x factor – if you haven’t got it you stand no chance imho

    Janet Devlin
    there’s no rags to riches story here – her journey has to be one of confidence although she appears to have this in spades in front of a net camera. the favourite so far and way ahead of anyone on internet hits. her voice can be quite mesmerising and the accent and inflection give it an air of originality. imo she is plan A. but not a shoe as 16 year olds have a propensity to be annoying. she hasn’t shown this so far but i fear the little girl lost act may wear thin. we’ll see…

    Amelia Lily
    Not much to say here. polished with good vocal skills. reminds me of Kelly Clarkson a little. this may be a negative though as she has no where to go in terms of growth so she’ll have to hit the ground running and never let up. also no rags to riches story here – nice middle class (but that didn’t harm matt cardle last year). i think she is plan B as i think the producers want a female winner.

    Misha Bryan
    Excellent vocals but i don’t see much originality, coming across exactly the same as a young aretha franklyn. also she displayed a little bit of ghetto chick attitude which will grate on the british public. if that cockiness keeps displaying itself she’ll be for an early bath.

    now the unconfirmed and a bit of a hobson’s choice for the producers…

    Melanie McCabe
    Not much to go on but so far she comes across as a whitney houston imitator. clearly she can sing but i question her marketability. being irish she could drain some of JDs votes which the producers will not want if i’m right about plan A. too little to go on really. could be a contender i guess…

    Jade Richards
    Now here we have the classic rags to riches story (aww… don’t you just love the grandma story… not!). the problem is the more i watch JRs audition the less i’m impressed… its all over the place, and i question her ability to be consistent. however, at times she is very good and could improve massively with a vocal coach. the question here is do the producers want her? if JD (or AL) plan A will they risk a strongish scottish contestant with jai mcdowell fresh in the memory. if this girl goes tyhrough to the lives she will be a contender i think.

    now what is the thing that gets you to the winning post besides being able to sing? – it’s humility. imo if you are not humble before the audience you don’t have much of a chance. matt cardle for me is the first contestant to recognise this and actually work on it. his bow with hands together at the end of every performance says to the audience ‘i am here because of you. you put me here and you can take it away. i am grateful for your support and continue to do my best for your entertainment’. lol it doesn’t mean that if you do have it you’ll win though as more than one contestant is capable of displaying it e.g. rebecca ferguson

    • Andrew

      Love the decoding of that trademark Cardle bow, Rob! I think it’s spot on – as is your assessment of the girls.

    • Malcolm

      Rob. Very interesting. Wish I’d discovered all the very good info on here a few days ago.
      I correctly picked Shane ward, Leona and Jo mcelderry very early on in the contest on the years they won. The thing they all had in common was a very broad range in their voice, something that gives versatility come the live shows. All had a high note that they blew the audience away with. This year I saw someone who amazed me in the auditions, someone as good as Leona… Maybe. He had a range to his voice that was stunning but he also did the will young thing of being smart enough to play around with the song. Unfortunately for me looks like lascel wood hasn’t even made the judges houses. For me he was this years clear winner.
      Now I need to think again, and in future be a bit more cautious before commting a fair chunk of cash so early in the process.

  • mark

    hi the odds compilers at unibet must be complete muppets i had a big bet on kelly rowland to be winning judge at 7-4 as shes obviously got the girls which are far the best catogary this year and ive just checkrd the latest odds and unibet now have her at 4-5 to be winning manager but have still got the girls catogary at 6-4 to win it doesnt make sence il be checking there odds on a regular basis looking for some false prices and great bets

    • Andrew

      Hi Mark, it’s an odd one, isn’t it? My guess is the Unibet odds compiler must have been told to keep each market balanced, so a big bet on Kelly would lead the mentor market to be reconfigured but not the category one. As you say, this does open the possibility for a bit of arbitrage.

  • So, The 4 groups doing lives are:

    2 Shoes, we saw them last weekend.

    The Risk (Boy band created at bootcamp) Including Marlon McKenzie who gets replaced with Charlie from The Keys at Judges Houses.

    Another manufactured at bootcamp boy band, described to me as a young urban One Direction.

    Another manufactured at bootcamp girl band.

    The groups category is looking stronger than I had expected, but it says a lot that 3 of the 4 doing lives are all manufactured by the producers.

    My updated list with 14 of the 16 doing lives is on:

  • Diane

    Did anyone see faye horne on xtra factor on Sunday 18th September – would be interested to hear feedback. You can view her on you tube – she’s having some fantastic comments!

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