X Factor 2011 Week 3 Review: Why this series has gone wrong

As punters on the X Factor, we care about the health of the show. And we are worried for it. Three weeks in, has there ever been such an uninspiring collection of potential winners comprising the top five in the betting?

The fact that The Risk are favourites speaks volumes about the mediocrity of their competition. Here is a competent boyband, no more no less, who have been artificially inflated by three great slots in the running order (13/16, 10/12, 9/11) and pimping from the judges. They remind us of Foinavon – out in front only because they’re the only ones who haven’t fallen over. (Yet.)

Second favourite Janet Devlin always looked a risky Plan A, with a quirky voice and “little girl lost” persona that seemed likely to wear thin at some point. As a strong black female, third favourite Misha B faced an uphill struggle to be taken seriously as a winner even before the astonishing character assassination last Saturday, on which more below.

After them in bookmakers’ lists comes Craig Colton, who has become steadily more anonymous since his standout week 1 performance and would surely be a disastrous winner for the show – if the considerably more talented Matt Cardle evidently can’t break the curse of the male winner, what chance for the sidegob-singing biscuit boy?

The top five in the betting is rounded out by the even more anonymous Sophie Habibis, who remains known to the public primarily as the one who got through judges’ houses instead of Jade Richards and the one who survived the big twist instead of Amelia Lily.

This time last year, we had three likeable and credible potential winners in Matt, Rebecca and One Direction; Cher was about to have her moment in the sun with ‘Stay’, and Mary Byrne had not yet been ground into submission. This time two years ago, Joe was solid, Olly was entertaining, Stacey was adorable, Danyl was polarising but talented, and Lucie had not yet been sacrificed for Jedward.

How did we come to have such a flawed collection of contenders this time around? In our opinion the show’s producers have made a series of disastrous decisions, stretching right back to the very first act shown on the very first audition show.

That, of course, was Frankie Cocozza. When we reviewed his audition, we thought he might be good for a bit-part role in the early live shows. But somebody on the show evidently thought an arse tattoo was enough of a substitute for a voice for them to be able to build Frankie up into a star of the whole series. They invested heavily in him at bootcamp and judges’ houses and effectively constructed the boys category around him, sacrificing much more credible auditionees – notably Lascel Woods and John Adams – along the way.

Having sent Gary into the live shows with such an unbalanced category, they have then proceeded to criminally undersell its strongest asset – the talented and likeable Marcus Collins. They lumbered him with a difficult song in week 1, an unsuitable song in week 2, and then the death slot in week 3, from which he delivered a stonkingly good performance while half the audience were still watching Strictly.

The girls category has been, if anything, even more ineptly handled. After the audition shows, we described Kelly as having an “embarrassment of riches”. Yet three weeks in, of the three remaining girls, one has been publicly dissed as a bully and two have been repeatedly dismissed on air as boring. What on earth are producers thinking?

The VTs of Janet and Sophie talking to journalists were an appalling idea. We saw Janet mumbling that she “doesn’t have the stereotypical X Factor package” and “if people think I don’t have the X Factor, they shouldn’t vote for me”. After Gary had damningly told Sophie in week 2 that she lacked “spark”, we saw her denying to journalists that she was boring, in a rather boring way.

Of course, we then had the payoff of the journalists VTing about how impressed they were, but the damage was done. Any politician knows that you don’t repeat an opponent’s criticism of you in order to deny it – it merely reinforces the criticism in voters’ minds. It’s an elementary mistake.

To compound the situation with Janet, the show mystifyingly included Louis VTing that she is “boring”, and had Dermot reference the comment in her post-song interview. This is utterly baffling behaviour. If you’re worried about falling ratings, what would possess you to plant the thought in viewers’ minds that the heavily-hyped golden girl of the series is too dull to be worth tuning in for?

We can only assume that the show was desperate to create any kind of talking point, and – like Big Brother in its dog days – has forgotten how to do so without throwing some negativity around.

It’s hard to escape the conclusion that panic about falling ratings also prompted the extraordinarily inappropriate decision to have Louis and Tulisa accuse Misha B of bullying live on air, instead of dealing with the issue through a quiet word backstage.

As tpfkar noted in the comments, the decision to engineer this controversy right at the end of the show looked like a reaction to the stories that only 5.5 million people had stayed tuned for the last 15 minutes of the previous week. The price paid was that, while the pimp slot is usually used to send viewers off feeling good about themselves, this time the show ended on a deeply unpleasant note.

As Dug puts it in the comments, this was “something more terrible than any X-factor contestant has ever been called before – a ‘bully’. Not ‘a diva’, not ‘difficult’ but bully – a word that equates with malice and intimidation.” The decision to air such a serious allegation in public, in the apparent hope of cheap publicity, deserves to come back and bite the show.

At least the wording of Louis’s and Tulisa’s criticism, along the lines that Misha doesn’t realise how she comes across, leaves the door open to a rehabilitation journey. But still, to have turned the strongest-looking category for years into two bores and a bully – in the space of just three live shows – suggests a level of ineptitude that would have us despairing if we were Simon Cowell.

The groups category is another that has been maladroitly handled, in two ways. First, producers backed the wrong boyband in their bootcamp and judges’ houses editing, giving more positive coverage to Nu Vibe. By the time the first live show came around, they had realised their mistake. But even having decided to strangle Nu Vibe at birth, they still went ahead with their second mistake – losing 2 Shoes.

Given that they couldn’t get rid of Nu Vibe quickly enough in week 2, it is very hard to imagine another explanation for the ditching of 2 Shoes than that programme makers were nervous about stepping into the unknown territory of having a heavily pregnant contestant. While one can understand why this might be, if indeed it was the case, was it really a decision that demanded to be made?

Surely the show could have billeted Charley and Lucy in a quiet hotel away from the X Factor house, exempted them from all but non-essential duties, and provided 24/7 midwife monitoring for Charley? We strongly suspect that the public would have taken the little third Shoe to their hearts – imagine all the VTs featuring ultrasound scans that could have been shown – and kept 2 Shoes around for a long run in the competition. (Don’t forget, Charley actually can sing). It could have been the feelgood television story of the autumn.

Our reading of the bigging-up of The Risk these first three weeks is that it has been a panic reaction to the possibility of Tulisa being out by halfway – in stark contrast to One Direction last year, which felt meticulously planned from the audition stages. And we’re not convinced that it’s working. The fact that The Risk were given running order help for the third week in a row suggests to us that their first public vote may have been less than reassuring (One Direction were sent out 4th in week 2).

Nor were they done any help by their VT this week, which showed them out on the lash with Derry creepily boasting about hitting on another man’s girlfriend. As Sofabet commenter Jack said, “that made me really dislike him”. Presumably, realising that Frankie Cocozza is surely not long for this world, the show decided to line up The Risk to take over his mantle as jack-the-lads – but we doubt that will do them any more favours than it has done for Frankie.

Following on from “dump on the boys” week last week, the dissing of the three girls this week along with The Risk’s VT suggests that in their eagerness to create talking points, producers are willing to undermine even the acts they want to succeed.

As a result, they are poisoning their own well. Week 3’s “rock week” theme was a microcosm of this. One or two arguments between judges about whether a song counts as “rock” make for good knockabout fun. But this year, it seemed like every other song featured judge bickering about the theme. The overall impression was of a show too incompetent to follow through on its own self-made rules.

Above all, programme makers seem to have forgotten that the viewing public need acts they can feel good about rooting for. Johnny Robinson comes over extremely sympathetically, but his shelf life is limited. Which credible potential winners are viewers supposed to spend the next seven weeks tuning in for because they want to see them do well?

As punters holding win bets on Marcus Collins, we live in hope that producers might realise that his sunny personality offers one way to drag the show out of the negativity in which they have mired it. As fans of the show, however, we fear they may have painted themselves into a corner of unpleasantness from which they will find it difficult to escape.

Do you agree that producers have made some spectacular miscalculations this year, or are we missing a master plan? As always, do please share your thoughts in the comments box below.

53 comments to X Factor 2011 Week 3 Review: Why this series has gone wrong

  • Jim

    As always Daniel, an accurate and intelligently written article. The only person of note you didn’t mention was Kitty, who continues to put in fantastic performances week-in week-out and was exceptional in the sing-off when under tons of self-imposed pressure. I thought hers was the stand-out performance of the week, even more so than comedy Johnny. I look forward each week to seeing “What Kitty Did Next”. How can she gain more public support? Your thoughts on that would be interesting. Keep up the good work 🙂

  • tpfkar

    That is the best written article of several I’ve read along these lines. Well said.

    I’d just add a gloss to the point about the groups. They had no choice but to feature Nu Vibe more at judges’ house, as they changed the line-up for The Risk so late. The real mistake was in getting the manufactured groups wrong; they took 2 attempts to form Rhythmix and 3 to form The Risk. And as you said they made Charlie look very shallow – surely the Keys themselves would have been a better bet?

    Perhaps they tried to form too many groups from too many finalists. We saw them standing in a room putting lots of contestants into groups, it looked almost random and they are now paying the price.

  • Malcolm

    I think the show is suffering from it’s age and the fact that Simon left for the US version.
    As with Big brother the first few series were better, once the producers thought they’d cottoned on to a successful formula they tried to repeat it year on year with similar contestants. It became predictable and boring.
    In Simons absence, desperate to hang on to ratings they have gone for identikit contestants to other years. They seemed to pick them out really early and those featured right from auditions are now in the live shows. Even those that do not follow the programme closely have twigged how fixed and scripted it is.
    Maybe with new judges they wanted a more modern edge to the show, hence the surprising (to me) decision to leave out lascel wood. Having invested so heavily on their choices from the start, no one dare admit that many were just not up to standard and we are left with a fairly mediocre bunch for the live shows.
    I’m assuming now that with Marcus and Janet given opening slots on the show they were beyond risk of going. If Sami had also survived then Craig and Sophie were seen as expendable if Rhythmix and one of them crept into the bottom 2.
    Kitty must be vulnerable again next week, she has surely had enough favours with little effect. Kitty and one of frankie or Rhythmix for the bottom 2 I think.
    I’m still confused about the public humiliation of misha. They gave her the top spot and then took away all the advantage. If Janet is plan A maybe misha was given her go at top spot in an early week to then give scope to give worse slots subsequently as it becomes more crucial. Janet on a week that was going to be harder for her to shine was buried away in the early part of the show, giving scope to return to the better slots later when it matters. Misha is now due to open the show at some point soon when at her most vulnerable, Janet will be in the clear.
    …..However much we are speculating, the producers can only be planning and speculating more.

  • Boki

    It looks miscalculated since they can’t find a way to get viewers back. But regarding the negativity to all contestants, some of the ‘weaknesses exposed’ could be turned around and some not.

    For example word bully probably made its damage and it’s hard to revert. But boring can be easily reversed if Janet (or Sophie) come out (at least once) with an up-tempo song – imagine the praises then. If Janet can pull it out then I guess it was planned from the beginning.

    • Andrew

      Hi Boki – I think the “boring” VT would make sense dramatically only if the contestant is going to disprove it right there and then with a storming performance. Why expect viewers to keep tuning in week after week to see if a contestant labelled as boring can do something interesting?

      Much more sensible to achieve the same effect through “you’re brilliant at X type of song, but I don’t think you can do Y type of song” criticism.

      • Boki

        Hi Andrew, I believe the boring in Sophie and Janet is not of same origin. Sophie is prepared for near future departure imo. Comments from Louis about Janet came after her performance so she couldn’t disprove it this time, also he would like to see her doing an up-tempo song. You have a point there about sensibility (which they don’t have) and unsatisfied viewers but next week is a good chance for her to prove she can do it. I agree that if it doesn’t happen next week I got it all wrong 🙂

        • Andrew

          Hi Boki, You may be right but I rather suspect they’re not thinking so long term with Janet. Watching her VT back (the Louis “she’s a bit boring” comment is right at the start), I think they thought they were helping her

          I think they thought viewers would remember her talking about how she’s learning to deal with the press – a step on the fabled journey to self-confidence – and the journalist saying she’s “spiky” and has “attitude”.

          Trouble is, we didn’t actually see any evidence of this. So I think what people will actually remember is the sight of slightly embarrassed journalists trying to find a polite way to tell her to her face that she has no personality and isn’t worth writing about.

          • Nicky

            I agree. I felt they were attempting to put forth an argument, (that Janet is boring), only to have it disproved there and then. I think they were trying to show Janet holding her own with the journalists before giving a credible rock performance. Unfortunately, I thought she came across a little petulant in the interview and her performance was underwhelming. I’m intrigued by your comment,
            “They’re not thinking so long term with Janet”. Are they going to try to get rid of her?

          • Andrew

            Hi Nicky, I meant only in terms of the VT, i.e. I thought they weren’t thinking beyond this week with the whole “boring” storyline but rather, as you say, they were under the mistaken impression that her interview and performance were going to disprove it there and then. I do think they were trying to help her and got it wrong.

  • Donald

    All well outlined Daniel and all true. Producers have made show a big let down for viewers.

    My nieces and nephews (who I mentioned last week) did’t even watch the show this week and they have grown up as XFactor past 8 years. They did watch the sing off last night and wanted to see Bruno Mars.

    It’s even getting boring on social media, The campaign for Nirvana being Xmas No.1 the only activity catching a bit of attention.

    Rumours of Judges not getting on abound, maybe Simon will return?

    It’s certainly a lottery for the next few weeks. I can’t figure out what they doing with Sophie.

    Waiting for the show for any bets on elimination this week. I have my contacts and one told me that you ain’t seen nothing yet, wait until 19th November to decide who wins.

    Interesting if Judge heard anything, I wasn’t told about what it is but was told the date. My source been good over the years.

  • Whyalwaysme

    Underestimating Johnny Robinson in this series is an extremely dangerous ploy in my opinion. From all you have very rightly and rationally written above, do you not think the show is in danger of becoming a parody of itself? It is no longer able to shroud it’s contrived variety of plots through the effortless showmanship of Simon Cowell at centre stage, nee three of these judges seem amateurish at best and uncontrollable at worst. Thus the veil is being revealed all the readily to the public who before were happy for Saturday night entertainment, and are now being turned off by the transparent and poorly executed political agendas implicit in the show. The mediocrity on show is exceptionally apparent, and when in theory it would make perfect sense to promote and push the singularly most talented and marketable act (Misha), they have tried assassinate her after a potentially defining performance. Thus the public are left with little to champion for, as realistically unless there is some very heavy spin and very quickly, Misha now has a tag that will be very difficult to ignore. Added to the fact she already comes across somewhat arrogant and obtrusive, she will be a somewhat uncomfortable sell for the public. Her most redeeming feature is her obvious talent, but talent isn’t everything, people want a champion. Which brings me back to Johnny. Where you say his shelf-life is limited, that would of course be the case – in any other series. But as you have outlined above, this is far from any ordinary series. The danger is that Louis doesn’t take him seriously, and the pantomime continues. But if the way he was dressed this week, coupled with his fun and accomplished performance of a tricky (but suitable) song is anything to go by, then this is hopefully on the wane. The test for Johnny is whether he is actually able to cut it toe to toe with the big guns. The obvious answer to this is perhaps not, but another view of his audition video will show that he is probably most unsuited by the pantomime persona, and when given a slower and more melodic tune there may be some surprises in store. Even at his 100%, he will never be as talented as Misha or Janet at 80%, but this may not matter. If he does go far then will the producers want him to win? 1) Perhaps not as they would not want to undermine the show’s credibility, but then the groundswell of support may already be too strong. 2) Why not, if he can give himself some credibility over the coming weeks, then when compared to the mediocrity and dullards in competition, he will already be the nation’s darling. In an unordinary series, why shouldn’t there be an unordinary winner?

    • Henry VIII

      Because it’s not that unordinary a series.

    • mark

      I would stay off backing Johnny, unless of course you envisage hisa price shortening, I can see that happening like with Wagner, I expect his exit to be wk6/7 – by which point his price may have shortened enough to make him a decent lay

      Once it gets to week6/7 and he’s still here people get convinced he could be the joke act to win it, momentum builds on twitter/facebook etc – but ultimately it wont be enough (look at Wagner last yeat and jedward)

      So i’d just wait till wk6/7 assuming he’s still here and if he’s got to a reasonable price to lay..then it’s time to lay Johnny to win!

  • Just watch X factor USA and see the difference in talent. The UK acts are so lifeless compared to the Americans. Misha B is clearly the most talented, with Janet coming second. The others are all highly amateurish.

  • simon "le chat"

    Excellent article Daniel.
    It certainly seems like this year X Factor is tired and less appealing than previously. This could of course be down to the quality of the remaining acts but I supsect it is more to do with the natural shelf life and poor record of the past winners.

    I agree with Whyalwaysme that Jonny is a very able and talented singer and if he suddenly throws away the Widow Twanky outfits and performs a serious ballad he could bring the house down against such mediocre opponants.

    However I can’t see Johnnie remaining in the show long enough to get to the final so I look elsewhere to find could win X Factor and I can indentify three people- MISHA, MARCUS THE RISK. One of these will win for sure. As for the calibre of the show, well I still enjoy it althouigh LOUIS is a total and utter pratt and I remain astonished that ITV continue to invest in such a wishy washy souless drip t pontificate in his wretched manner. If the show is going to improve from here, Mr Walsh needs culling before any of the acts.

    MARCUS has come in on the betting- now about 16’s to win and 7/4 (from 3/1) to be top boy. If the producers would only cut him somr slack and give Craig the opening slot I will be forming a queue at William Hills and ordering my skip to carry off all those tenners!

    • Nicky

      I think they keep Louis Walsh to do the dirty work. Who else oould be relied upon to cull the likes of Laura White, or save someone like Lloyd Daniels. Or to give Sami a naff song like ‘If I Could Turn Back Time’?

  • Curtis

    I don’t think Janet should be ruled out from winning. This week the favourites (Janet included) all ended up tripping over their laces, at least to some extent. This year could turn out to be won by the person who makes the least mistakes, rather than the one who has the best performances.

  • Jack

    A great, well-written and interesting article. The producers have become so unpredictable this series making it difficult to make predictions and predict who will leave. For example, will Frankie come down from a sympathy bounce? Was last week even a sympathy bounce? The way the producers played it, I just can’t understand why people voted for him. Will Kitty get a sympathy bounce? I’m not sure, she’s had her pimp slot and even with loads of favours last week, she was in the bottom two. Rhythmix and Sophie must also be getting close to the bottom two. An early draw for either could see them slip in and see Frankie/Kitty feasibly saved. I think, atm, Johnny has much support and will be safe next week. Also, I agree that The Risk may not be popular as people think. Elsewhere, Janet and Misha should be safe (so long as the character assassination doesn’t continue) Marcus should be OK, considering he survived the death slot. Not too sure about Craig; I even forgot what he sung at the weekend – He needs another “Jar of Hearts” or he could fade into obscurity. I think that, unless he is in the Death Slot (Is there still an overlap with Strictly next week?) he should be safe next week though. It will be interesting to see what the Judges pick with the theme supposedly Halloween again.

    • Daniel

      Hi Jack, I agree with your assessment here. There is a ten-minute overlap with Strictly next Saturday – the last one. Cue all the fun speculation about who gets thrown under the bus this coming week.

      • Mark

        Craig mentioned briefly on the Xtra Factor last night he was going to be doing an upbeat number this week and didn’t sound to enthusiastic about it. This will surely not suit him and think it will be interesting to see if he is given the death slot this week..

  • Henry VIII

    I agree with the article that they’ve been incompetent but I wonder if disappointment in falling ratings (apart from the betting aspect) is disappointment in the lack of cultural permanency, a symptom of societies in decline, the lack of something that can touch and unite us all.

    The X Factor with all it’s manipulations and falsity can never be that something. But putting philosophy aside, all it’s manipulations and falsity is great for the betting 🙂

  • EM

    Well that wasn’t a great weekend for me. I could see Frankie escaping the bottom two but didn’t see Kitty coming. You’re so right that the show isn’t up to its usual standards. It’s had low seasons before but this time I think it’s due to the more experienced production team being moved to work on X Factor USA. The warning signs were there in the audition shows when most of the sweary and terrible ones were people we’d seen in years past.

    All is not lost though… Here’s my learns from the weekend:

    New producers, new tricks. I’ve never seen so much panning of the contestants. Sophie and Janet got rough VTs for not having enough personality. Sami and Mischa got it from the judges. Also the Frankie angle was totally new, designed to show him in a horrible light to those mainstream viewers with a laddish VT and performance and lukewarm comments at best. I really do think they’re sowing new Robbie Williams seeds at Frankie to engender the feeling of a vote for Frankie is a vote against Gary, the judges and the whole show. Which means they’re laughing all the way to the bank.

    Don’t underestimate the power of publicity. Kitty’s performance was far from one of the two worst, all the negative hype seems to have worked against her. I can see the Mischa-gate comments being used to dampen her vote which could damage Janet.

    There’s some fan bases out there. I didn’t really feel passion out there for Craig or Sophie on Saturday night bu they got through. I see neither going all the way but they ain’t leaving yet.

    Finally I saw the last piece of the jigsaw. I always say the top 3 or 4 will be the most marketable acts. This year these are Marcus, The Risk and Janet. Mischa isn’t sympathetic enough, neither are Kitty or Craig. Rythmix aren’t good enough. Jonny is fun but not a recording star and Sophie is too generic and quiet. Marcus’s performance showed he has a package to offer.

    For Louis not to go to deadlock suggests Kitty was bottom of the pile this week. They need her for headlines so stand by for a hard week VT and a vulnerable stripped back performance to show off the real Kitty.

    Assuming Kitty bounces I think we’ll see a Frankie, Rythmix bottom two next week with Rythmix going if at all possible.

  • Shoulders

    Hi Andrew, an excellent account of the series so far, I agree with all of your points especially on the producers seeming to get things so wrong this year. I wonder how Simon has split the production team with the show in the UK v’s the US version?. With the US winners $5’000’000 prize, the winner singing in the Superbowl ad break and having to compete against Idol in the ratings, there is a lot of pressure for that show to be a success, it could well be that he has the key people behind series strategy with him in LA, leaving the UK version with Louis in charge, with all thats gone on it could kind of make sense!!

    • EM

      Simon going off to the US and leaving Louis in charge has the makings of a wonderful comedy sketch but I’d doubt there’s anything in it.

      While there’s no doubt Simon has a lot of input into the show it’s run by people who supposedly know the tv market better than he does.

    • Andrew

      Cheers Shoulders. I’m sure you and Euan are right about creaming off the best of the UK production team for the USA – it makes sense and would explain a lot. Would love to be on the conference calls between the UK producers and Cowell at the moment.

  • Simon "le chat"

    I’ve just watched a recording of the show and conclude that Jonnie was indeed amazing- not his performance but the reaction to it.
    The public like an underdog, someone who is a bit of a misfit succeeding.
    I dont think he is going to win the competition but he’s going to be around for a while yet. Same with Kitty – I thought she was really good in her performance.
    MISHA was outstanding but she is not an attractive perosnality judging from her vt and the judges comments. She is the biggest threat to JANET among the girls, and this bulling tag is going to take some pegging back, that if it can e pegged back at all.

    So who goes next week and the one after?
    The obvious choices are Sophie who is boring (although she sang well) and possibly Craig.
    I know I keep having a pop at Craig but I do think he is terribly overated. I could see MARCUS staring in the West End in a production of West Side Story but Craig? Not a chance- at least Shane Ward, Matt Cardle, Steve Brookstein and Quinny looked the part. So I think CRAIG is vulnerable- give him the death slot and lets see what he makes of it. Or give it to Sophie?

    Plenty of money for MARCUS who is low as 14’s in places, not far behind SOPHIE and CRAIG. I expect that gap to close and for MARCUS to displace both in the market if he is given a decent slot next week.

    Plenty of money for Jonny too although I believe it is a step too far for him to win.
    Yep, Sophie and CRAIG at risk on the basis they will want to keep FRANKIE, JONNIE and KITTY in.

    From a blokes point of view I think Kitty is fab- I would love to date her etc etc

    • Boki

      Apparently blokes are just adoring Kitty but not voting for her.

      Btw, I lost all the winner bets I placed before live shows (James, 2shoes, Melanie, Frankie, all meant to be layed later) except Marcus who is pending. I was happy to catch last 13 when he was 10 everywhere but soon after he went sky high. Now he’s still 20 at few places and I’m tempted again to add some and if I do this it could mean he’s doomed 🙂

      • Simon "le chat"

        Hi Boki
        Dont be put off MARCUS because of his odds. He’s still generally more now than he was when many here took him at the beginning at 14’s. I’ve backed him at all sorts of odds but particularly in recent weeks to be top boy. He’s still 15/8 to be top boy with Hills which is very tempting and I added some more this morning. Ok, if I’m wrong I am wrong but having been played and sung in bands and worked in the business for many years I can see MARCUS is a street better than the other two boys and the bookies have got this one wrong.
        Not only that but there is a feelgood side about MARCUS as Daniel points out in his article and noone has a bad word to say about him which is very important in a competition like this – note Johnnie has the same kind of popularity.
        It was an extraordinary thing of the judges to round on MISHA- Louis apologising today only adds to the damage by repeating the allegations and I dont think MISHA can recover from it.
        Anyhow when MARCUS is knocked out then I’ll know he cant win. However until he is I shall believe he can.

  • Oscar Diggs

    Ladbrokes have opened markets on 1st and last to perform next week (Halloween Theme) – I think opportunities exist here…

    I’d say – 1st up: Craig or Rhythmix – pimp: Johnny

  • bunnyman

    Terrific stuff Daniel, thanks for a fascinating series of articles. One of the few things I would question is your oft repeated assertion that Janet is their Plan A. I have never seen it like this, I have seen her more of a pace setter intended as an early favourite, but incapable of keeping it going until the end, allowing the real Plan A to come through. If they really wanted her to win surely they would have shown us less of her in auditions, to make it less likely we would get bored of her one dimensional warbling by the latter stages of the contest. After the 2nd show I came to the firm conclusion that the real Plan A was The Risk. After all these years the format demands a group winner and this really seemed to be their best chance ever of getting one.

    Then we had Saturday, which showed that just like every other group in the history of XF (with the exception of G4) that the vocalists were flawed. With their resources is it really beyond them to find 4 lads who can sing? As a heavy backer of the Risk I hope that this week was a one off. They are still miles better than JLS were at this stage, it looks like they have less to beat, and I think they can rely on every assistance from the producers of the show to overcome the barriers that any group will inevitably face.

  • KeenObserver

    I feel the format for the last couple of years has really not helped the show, by this I mean the fact that auditions have essentially been scrapped with a live performance replacing them, followed by a live bootcamp performance, followed by live shows. There was something intimate about just the contestant in front of the judges and at least the facade that the judges saw everyone as we watched them agonise over the decison to put the auditionee through or not. This was what gave the public an emotional attachment with the contestants. Now we see about 5 or 6 auditions per audition show, 3 of which are predictably awful. The cynical public has had enough, they want to see the best acts go through and see memorable performances week after week. There’s no going back when the producers invest so much in individuals like Frankie or Goldie. Now even at judges houses, you only saw the full auditions of those who went through, which is not only insulting to the other performers, but also gives off the impression that not everyone is getting a fair crack of the whip.

  • Henry VIII

    I think XF are going to get their chosen – Janet and The Risk – to the final 3 but working out who’ll be with them is challenging.

    They were also pushing Rhythmix and Misha but panned them this week.

  • Simon "le chat"

    I agree Henry VIII – at the moment they would appear to be the chosen two, especially The Risk.
    Q. Who will join them?
    A. It has to be a boy – history dictates as such and the balance of the showcase final requires it
    Q. Which boy?
    A. I think it is between MARCUS and JOHNNIE, almost certainly MARCUS as I cannot see anyone from the others forcing their way to the front of the queue. I take very much on board WHYALWAYSME’s comments about Johnnie- I went back and watched his performance and it seems to me he brought the house down. Underestimating him could be a serious error indeed although I dont believe he quite has the legs to get to the final but I do expect him to be there long after KITTY, CRAIG, RYTHYMIX andpossibly MISHA have bitten the dust.
    I don’t believe MISHA can win after what happened on Saturday for while she has the talent (in abundance), she doesn’t have the support. Saturday night TV is watched by middle class conventional people who probably don’t “get” or even like all this “newspeak” dialect that has crept into the English language – expressions like “You was” instead of “you were” – that kind of thing. MISHA encompasses this culture and it shouldn’t make a difference and probably wouldn’t were it not for “bullygate” – I now fear the two combined with MISHA’s youth and perceived attitude will derail her campaign for lack of votes – which I suspect is what the producers want to see the more conventional JANET through. Several posters in here have made the valid point that to win you have to be humble, or at least appear so.
    Just my observation – this is more than a talent show- were it only that MISHA would be at or near the top of the pile, but the winner needs to be a full package to be moulded by the Syco machine and they dont want to hook up with volatile partners.
    The producers must have know Bullygate would damage MISHA immensley and they must have done it deliberately. They know from SHARON OSBOURNES attack on STEVE BROOKSTEIN in the final that it can backfire so decided to do the damage now- you know, a small puncture in the keel and let the vessel gradually flounder.

    So red line through MISHA, red line through CRAIG, red line through SOPHIE, red line through RYTHYMIX and let the cream come to the top.

  • Nicky

    Brilliant article – spot on! Not a good week for me. Sorry if I influenced anyone on Frankie to be in the bottom two. I did think from the handling of Sami she was destined to be there too, so had a bet on her also. My profits from backing Amelia to go and Nu Vibe and Frankie to be bottom in week two have taken a dent however, thanks to someone who is so dire I thought he wouldn’t bounce. Lesson learnt: never underestimate the sympathy bounce! It’d be a brave punter who backs Kitty to be out this week!

    I came to the conclusion last year that Twitter, Facebook and internet polls did not represent the X Factor demographic as they are too youth orientated and the data samples too small. However, with Frankie doing so badly in all of the above, it’s still surprising to me that he survived.

    The show has ‘gone wrong’, I concur, because the contestants are mediocre. Whilst the comedy acts are entertaining, people also want to have their socks blown off, and no-one so far seems capable of having such a moment.

    The previous two series, I’ve made decent dosh backing the winners (Joe and Matt). However, I didn’t pick them early, so they were both favourites when I bet them. I agree in part with Simon “le chat”
    that the cream rises to the top, but not entirely. I’ve found previously that one person becomes the standout ‘star’ after several good singers have been trashed out en route. I was watching a program about Matt Cardle and found myself saying, “Man, that boy can sing!”. I agree that if Syco can’t make Matt a success, they’re probably looking for something different this year. But no-one’s a clear standout at this stage.

    I try to analyse the singing (by listening but not watching the performances) and then combine this with strategies learnt from Sofabet and thinking about the demographics of the voting public and what they will like. Combining these factors and thinking about how they will play out has seemed easier in previous years, however.

    If the series has ‘gone wrong’, this probably makes it less predictable? Not in an exciting way though, more in a chaotic, directionless way. Saturday’s antics smacked of desperation.

  • mark the bookie basher

    jonnie robinson 4-1 to be in the final 3 is a great bet the country loves a under dog and he has the 2 most important things you need 2 do well a half decent voice and the likeability factor lump on

  • Boki

    Don’t you think the judges will kick him out like Wagner before reaching top4 ?

  • Simon "le chat"

    Hi Boki
    That’s exactly what the judges will do ie kick Johnnie out before the finals.
    As long as there is a bottom 2 they will take advantage of their collective veto and use it is the “wrong” act finishes bottom.
    I suspect this has already been used in the first two live shows to keep Kitty and Frankie in.

    I expect some surprises this weekend with popular acts being dissed and ending in the bottom 2. time for CRAIG to fade away methinks, and SOPHIE

  • mark the bookie basher

    14-1 well done oscar i took 6-1 just before the result show on sunday hes now 4-1 best at w-hill – hi boki no i dont think the juges will kick him out i dont think the,ll get the chance i think the public will vote him in the final if wagner can come 5th with no likeability what so ever also last years final was basically nailed on from show 3 onwards that matt rebecca and 1direction would be in final this year every single contestant has a weakness ie to boring to predictible attitude problems drama queen or in frankie case cant bloody sing 4-1 a great bet its my nap ov the show this year lump on be lucky

    • EM

      He’ll be gone before top 3. He has no recording artist potential sadly. As we saw with Wagner they have ways of making people they don’t want fall into the bottom two. Leaked stories to the press, songs that don’t suit, take away his dancers and choreography.

      By my current estimates we’re just two shows away from Gary suggesting that he’d like to see Jonny perform on his own, just him and his song to get a feeling for the “real Jonny”.


  • Whyalwaysme

    Whilst I’ve been aware of X Factor for several years (who could fail not to be), & have dipped in and out sporadically, I had largely been turned off by the composition of the show & the blatant agendas on offer. With Mr Cowell departed & a fresh line-up I decided to give this series a go with a view to making some money out of it. I should let you know that I am actually a bookmaker & trader, working predominantly with Racing & some Football, but with the state of British Racing there becomes a need to diversify. Therefore, I’d like to think I can approach the series with a fairly fresh view & have found many of the theories discussed on here and in forums fascinating. There are many similarities between studying this show and studying horses. Week in, week out in run up to the show, betting the elimination markets is very much like betting into an antepost racing market, whereby what the conditions on the day (running order/song choice/VT editing/etc) are unknown, but with careful thought can be hypothesised. After the Saturday show, and up to the Sunday show, strong similarities can be drawn to the same racing market on the day of the race. The particpants are known, the condition of the ground/weather is known, etc, i.e. you have far greater amount of information available to make sounder choices, but the market has now caught up & tends to be consistent with this information. I specialise in antepost betting & it is how I make my living. Therefore I am unsurprised to how drawn into the study, research & hypothesising I seem to be at this point in time. In fact my girlfriend (who has always watched and loved X Factor) thinks I’ve completely lost the plot. It is 1am, since 6pm I have been watching videos over again, reading forums, researching data all on X Factor, just like I would do with Racing – so perhaps she is right?! In any case I feel I am coming to some sort of conclusion on how to make this work in the long term & it is very similar to the advice I give to people with regards antepost racing bets. Understand the strengths & weaknesses of all the competitors (With only 10 consistent runners in this competition it is easy) to the finest degree possible. Some of this will of course be your own perception, but be as unbiased as possible & never ever make an assumption. An assumption is a guess & guessing is not how to make money betting – you can only use the information available to you at any one time. Once you are armed you can then hypothesise about the intrinsic factors which may occur on the day but are completely out of your control. These are clearly factors which are hugely important in determining the way people will vote. However, it seems to me that there is an enormous amount of ppl who bet based on their conspiracy theories, rather than any factual evidence available to them. These are purely (educated) guesses & are often based on pretty flimsy rationale. Furthermore, if you believe more than one selection is incorrectly priced then you don’t have to choose between them – back both. This is something which I see a lot where some1 is trying to choose one horse or another, where really if you are considering horse b, then you must believe it is the wrong price too, so back a+b. Finally, keep it simple, go with your gut instinct & don’t let other ppl sway you from this. Too much plotting & conspiring to what unknown intentions may be can often leave you missing the blatantly obvious which is right in front of your eyes. That of course is that Mischa B is quite clearly the most talented, versatile and polished performer on the show. Watching her VT and post performance interviews she is actually very humble & likeable. By next week bullygate will be forgotten and really the masses of voting public don’t give a fuck about all the hear say. They want a star. You’d rather back the most talented horse in the race off level weights more than 15% of the time wouldn’t you?

    Just to those who read my post on my belief in Johnny & think I have changed my mind – I haven’t, I’m just learning more as I go.

    • mark

      I just cant see Misha as winning, I thought from day 1 she comes across as too arrogant for the public to get behind

    • Henry VIII

      Go easy on this until you understand the behaviour of the electorate and the behaviour of the show’s creators, two factors that don’t exist in horse racing.

    • Andrew

      Very interesting post, Whyalwaysme, and wise words from Henry.

      Daniel and I (the team behind Sofabet) also used to work in racing. In terms of the analogy of studying the form for X Factor, we’ve always thought the key is to look for comparisons from previous seasons. What kind of acts have seemed similar, and what have been their trajectories?

      For example, with Misha B, do we compare her to Alexanrda Burke and Leona Lewis (with whom Misha can be compared talent-wise, but who both had the “self confidence” journey to go on), or to Rachel Adedeji and Rachel Hylton (less talented than Misha, but who appeared too spiky and self-assured to catch the hearts of the voting public)?

      With Johnny R, do we simply assume he is on the Wagner trajectory (joke act who will be ruthlessly jettisoned before the final), or is there potential for him to pick up a Rhydian Roberts line (started as a pantomime act but talent and personality turned him into a contender)?

      Great to have you here and look forward to your insights as the series progresses.

  • Simon "le chat"

    Very interesting post Whyalways me.
    I agree about MISHA having the most talent but she has to be likeable if she is going to win this competition and I cannot see her being likeable enough.
    I would compare her to KIERON FALLON – fabulous talent but not as likeable as, say, FRANKIE DETTORI (MARCUS). In a hoserace if they are all trying their hardest likeability does not matter- in X Factor it does.

    That is why I believe MARCUS will prevail over CRAIG ie MARCUS is the most talented bloke by a mile and likeable. Bookies are cottoning on to it and in the last two days he has gone from 7/2 to 7/4.

    The DRAW is a good comparison with flat racing – compare it to say THE STEWARDS CUP where punters and bookmakers alike will know that low drawn horses are at a serious disadvantage. It is the same with the X factor running order except more acute – acts going first are at a serious disadvantage.

    Then you have the Stewards or judges who can effectively disqualify a runner for no reason other than it suits their agenda. Seems to me NUVIBE and SAMMI went for that reason, and their will be others as the weeks go by.

    We’ll see. On talent MISHA is home and dry but if the producers wanted her to win they would not have spiked her hull at the weekend.

    JANET, THE RISK and MARCUS – all marketable, humble, and generally reasonably talented.

  • lolhart

    A very interesting article. One thing that surprised me is how much they messed up the groups this year, especially given they have a mentor who outwardly seems to care about and is interested in her acts. The unflattering VT of The Risk made me question if they really are in favour with the producers. I’ve always suspected that Nu Vibe were supposed to be “the group” for this year judging by the footage at Boot Camp and Judges’ Houses. But by the live shows things weren’t working and the producers panicked. The funny thing is they could have made a group who were contenders by taking the “best” guys from both. I think the future VTs and feedback for The Risk will be interesting to watch.

  • Chatterbox5200

    What a fantastic site. I managed to stumble across it by accident and glad I did. The articles are extremely well written and speak a lot of sense. I will be following your commentary and betting suggestions as the series progresses.
    I know that Rhythmix are not expected to last much longer in the competition, but wondered what your thoughts were on the the fact that the Show have announced, that due to a complaint from a charity with the same name the group will change their name this week.
    I have no idea what the VT’s will show on Saturday, but this could be a great opportunity to generate some positive PR (showing the group caring about the charity) which could translate to votes for them and keep them out of the bottom two.
    I won’t be in the country for the next two weeks but will be checking this site for important updates.

    • Andrew

      Thanks Chatterbox! And welcome.

      Great question re Rhythmix. They could certainly make it into a positive if they want to. Alternatively they may want to gloss quickly over it (on the basis that the show itself comes out of the story looking somewhat incompetent and mean-spirited for having let it drag on this long), in which case it could just strike viewers as confusing.

  • Oli

    I totally agree with you Chatterbox, it was the first thing I thought when I heard the news that they are changing their name.

    I don’t see how they can’t mention it and it might have some goodwill towards the band as they are changing it for a charity.

    Also they are due a later slot this week The Risk have gone after them all 3 weeks, the fact that they were put out fourth last week could suggest a degree of confidence from the producers? Although the look of shock on their faces when they were safe seems like they were not confident themselves.

    Only 3 girl bands out of 7/8 who have been in the competition have not been in the bottom 2 in the first 2 weeks. 1 (Miss Frank) was eliminated the second (Hope) was in the bottom 2 and the third who survived were bizzarely The Conway Sisters from series 2!

    I worry for Sophie and Craig this week it isn’t unusual for big names to come to the bottom as early as week 3 (Danyl Johnson, Ashley -big afro and a good voice)

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