How do the X Factor judges make their decisions in a singoff?

The new judging panel has now made three singoff decisions and in each of them, programme-makers’ intentions have been (hat-tip Euan) “easier to read than Spot Goes For A Walk”. First we had Nu Vibe being led to the slaughter, then a clear desire to keep Kitty around, then the shooting down of Sophie Habibis.

So far, backing the obvious acts to be eliminated on Betfair during the singoff has looked tantamount to free money for those with the stomach to get involved at very short odds, yielding instant returns of around 20%, 20% and 8% respectively, as we have detailed in our weeks 2, 3 and 4 post-mortem posts here on Sofabet. Especially as the show has continued the trend of rescuing the second to perform that became a feature of the 2010 series.

Another four or five decisions will need to be made this series, and the question we want to ask today is: How concerned, if at all, should punters lumping on at short odds be about the possibility that programme-makers’ preferences, as suggested in the Saturday show, might not be carried through in a singoff situation?

Let’s unpack this question by looking at what it means to be an the X Factor judge – a timely question as Kelly Rowland’s unexpected grounding in LA with a throat complaint inevitably raises speculation about her comfort level with the role.

The job of X Factor judge is a complex one, as it involves wearing three hats. First, they are supposed to be rivals who are tasked with doing their best for the acts they mentor. Second, they are supposed to be credible music industry experts who can express authoritative opinions after live performances. And third, they are, in both of these capacities, employed by the show.

Sometimes, this third role can come into conflict with the first two: what’s good for the show, in terms of televisual entertainment – and the viewership and advertising revenue that brings in – may not be what’s good for a mentor’s acts, or for a mentor’s reputation as a credible music industry expert.

In such circumstances, should punters expect the judges to cleave fastest to their roles as mentors, as credible experts, or as employees of the show? To see why this is a crucial question for punters, consider the example of Sofabet commenter Pete D in week 2. Having astutely intuited that Frankie Cocozza would be in the bottom two – something which was far from obvious – along with Nu Vibe, Pete reasoned thusly:

if NV are going to stay rubbish (with no chemistry) it makes tactical sense for Louis and Kelly to keep them in another week for ballast to keep their own acts off the bottom… FC could improve and be a renewed threat with a right song and hard work under Gary’s tough love whip crack (as he won’t like to be beaten). Best that they jump on Gary’s mistake whilst it is still hot.

If you view the judges as above all else concerned with doing their best for their acts, this reasoning makes perfect sense. However, as Louis commented in reply:

the judges aren’t voting in a way to maximise their own acts’ chances – they’re voting in order to keep in the act the producers want. That’s the one which creates as much interest/headlines/exposure (and therefore £££) for the show as possible… Frankie is an interesting, recognisable act who creates headlines and has more potential to do so as the show goes on.

Actually, we can be pretty confident that the first role – championing their acts – will be the weakest in a singoff situation. Beyond expecting the judges to save their own act in a singoff (regardless of how badly they suck) the public does not really expect judges to vote tactically with their acts’ interests in mind.

The real tension comes when it’s the judges’ credibility as individuals that’s pitched against their role as employees.

Take, for example, the surprise semi-final singoff in 2010 which pitted Mary Byrne against Cher Lloyd. It seemed clear enough that the show was desperate to get Cher into the final. But as she was bottom of the public vote, this required a 3:1 majority verdict. Dannii Minogue’s more impressionable fans had expected her to prefer Mary, and erupted with shock on internet forums when she instead saved Cher.

In fact, we can’t think of a single example of a sing-off in which an act has been voted off who it seemed clear that the show wanted to keep. There are, however, some intriguing hypotheticals.

Take the singoff between Jedward and Lucie Jones in 2009. Lucie was the better singer; Jedward were more entertaining, and thus worth more to the show at that stage. Given the repeated disdain that Simon Cowell had expressed for Jedward, it shocked many (though not us) when he sent Lucie home, thus deadlocking the vote and sealing Lucie’s fate as she was bottom of the public vote.

But what if Jedward had been bottom? Keeping them around would have required Cheryl to send Lucie home, too. Would that have happened? We can only wonder.

Or ask yourself what might have happened if Wagner had sunk to the bottom two in 2010 before producers were ready to lose him. This could easily have happened in any of weeks 5-7, when Wagner proved to have been only just above the singoff zone despite their best efforts to bolster his vote. In these weeks, the show lost Treyc Cohen, Aiden Grimshaw and Paije Richardson – all better singers than Wagner, and all much less entertaining television than Wagner. Would the bongo-playing lothario have been saved in a singoff against any of those three acts?

This is a hypothetical we at Sofabet grappled with at the time. Louis, of course, would have saved Wagner. And we suspected Simon might have found a reason to do so, too, as he did for Jedward. This would have been sufficient had Wagner been second from bottom in the public vote. But what if he’d been bottom? That would have required Cheryl or Dannii to save him too. Would they have done so? We weren’t confident either way.

And this was with judges we knew pretty well. With three new judges around, it’s even harder to guess what are the limits to their willingness to put their personal credibility on the line in the interests of keeping an entertaining act around.

Louis, we reckon, can always be relied upon to take one for the team in a singoff decision. In Sofabet commenter Nicky’s words, “I think they keep Louis Walsh to do the dirty work. Who else could be relied upon to cull the likes of Laura White, or save someone like Lloyd Daniels?”

Indeed, the uncomplaining Irishman regularly proves worth his weight in gold to the show as a team player in his willingness to shamelessly shill for regional votes (“I want everyone in [insert city] to pick up the phone”) for other mentors’ acts as well as for his own, clumsily reminding us that we can download performances on iTunes, and helpfully furthering the cause of acts being groomed for post-show careers (1: Shout “you’re the next big boyband” at One Direction; 2. Repeat until true).

As the Jedward decision showed, Simon was also quite happy to sacrifice some personal credibility for the sake of the show. And why not? After all, it’s his show.

But Gary is not Simon. How much personal credibility is he willing to lay on the line? Some, it seems, judging by the praise he lavished on Frankie Cocozza before it became clear the public weren’t buying it. The Bitch Factor observed, on this subject:

Gary really has settled in to the Very Special X Factor Bullshit like he’s been doing it all his life, hasn’t he? Either that or he genuinely believes what he’s saying. Either way, it’s not encouraging.

Disarmingly, week 3 saw Gary admit to having lied on Frankie’s behalf in week 2, despite it being something “I promised myself I’d never do” when he accepted the X Factor gig. In a singoff between an entertaining joke act such as Jedward and a dull but credible singer such as Lucie, then, would there be limits to how far Gary is willing to suck it up for the sake of the show? Gary has much less invested in the show than Simon did.

What about Tulisa? We were intrigued by her body language as she announced her decision to keep Nu Vibe in the big twist and send home 2 Shoes – she seemed too embarrassed to raise her eyes to the stage. Nor did she look entirely comfortable to us when performing the character assassination of Misha B in week 3.

If anything, Kelly has appeared even more likely to be a loose cannon. In her very first singoff decision, she looked genuinely uncomfortable about saving Frankie over Nu Vibe – and it shouldn’t have been a soul-searching choice, given that Nu Vibe were almost as shit as Frankie. This was hardly a Jedward-Lucie situation. We have also wondered if Kelly might occasionally be veering from the script in the Saturday shows – on a couple of occasions, when Tulisa has had a pantomime dig at Gary, Kelly has stepped in to defend him with awkward effect.

We can, of course, assume that in general one wouldn’t employ someone to work in a sausage factory without first checking that they weren’t going to be horrified at the realisation that they are implicit in the slaughter of defenceless animals. And we can also assume that for a judge to send home an act producers want to keep would be what one might euphemistically call a career-limiting move. But does that mean we can be confident that it will never happen? Strange things can occur in the crucible of live television, after all.

We are interested to test your views on this. Are you confident that when programme-makers intentions seem clear from the Saturday show as they have done so far this series, they will always be carried through in a singoff situation? Or would you be worried about limits to one of more of the judges’ willingness to do what seems best for the show if that also involves sacrificing some personal credibility? If so, who?

58 comments to How do the X Factor judges make their decisions in a singoff?

  • lolhart

    I think in the past the programme-makers could definitely rely on the panel to “do the right thing” for the show. Dannii Minogue seemed uncomfortable at times when making her decisions after the sing-off, but she nearly always ended up towing the line. I agree that the real loose cannon this year is Kelly Rowland, partly because I think she assumed that she was joining a real singing/talent contest and not an entertainment show. But I still think Tulisa could surprise us. She seems very invested in her acts and really wants to win. She may compromise on some things, but not on others.

  • Boki

    This is maybe the most important article I have read here, crucial subject for some of us (especially for novice x-fac punters like me).

    My feeling is that in the first 3 sing-offs everything went according to producers plan. I didn’t lump on nu-vibe since it was 1st I witnessed but my impression was that Kelly really was a good actor 🙂 So early in the competition and 2 lousy acts shouldn’t be such a difficult decision.

    Kitty is good vocally so no problem there but 3rd one was to be interesting if Sophie encountered Frankie. I once asked if someone was saved twice or more like Katie but she had also decent vocals comparing to Frankie. Another even better test would be Misha vs Frankie, really showing how far are they ready to go.

    I agree Louis is a puppet on a string, Gary lied once so he can do it again. Kelly insists each time on vocals so it’s hard to imagine she would push Frankie iso Craig for example. That leaves Tulisa to do the dirty work if deadlock is not an option, embarrassed or not.

    I think you answered a lot of questions with this statement: “In fact, we can’t think of a single example of a sing-off in which an act has been voted off who it seemed clear that the show wanted to keep.” That fact speaks for itself, it’s no guarantee but if everything is 100% certain there would be no betting.

  • Tim

    I think a definite example of Tulisa towing the line was last week in the Kitty vs. Sami sing off. The first 2 votes were to send Sami home. Tulisa had made clear she was a big Kitty fan, so to see her vote for Kitty was a shock intended to increase the tension as it forced Louis to choose between them. I don’t believe for one second that any sane and sensible individual would vote to save Sami over Kitty, and for that reason I believe she was instructed to send Kitty home.

  • Donald

    Good piece, this has been playing on my mind a little also. Mainly for one reason which I will cover below.

    It is obviously a risk that a judge may break rank this year but the show tuffens them up quickly. Keeping in touch with acts comments fall off the radar quickly. Also they soon realise their there on Monday the act is out the door on the conveyer belt that is the live shows.

    If anyone breaks rank this year more likely to be to go to deadlock as at least they could argue the toss afterwards and 50/50 chance of it going the producers way while retaining credibility.

    Kelly could break rank though and Gary is not Simon as pointed out.

    Louis is a pro at singoff decisions, seems all so soft and nice doing it but no better man to wield the axe.

    From what I know it is all laid out at song choice, the acts really have no option and I know about one instance first hand so all this stuff I watch very carefully beacuse if they want to shaft an act I know they don’t bat an eyelid. On the conveyor belt you go.

    Loius even said I’m sorry one night on the way back out to do it. (Enough said here)

    Now this leads me on to one of the things I have been trying to figure out before having my real win bet.

    Janet may have one advantage other acts don’t have if push at shove and that is being Irish Louis may have a “problem”. Remember The Conway Sisters? But admitidely that was in days of three judges but it did prove vital. But as Simon revealed afterwards “they did Maria a favour” I never got to the bottom of that comment he made few years later.

    Sorry for going on a bit but feel best share what I know on what is such a great place and effort Daniel and Andrew as Boki rightly praised yesterday and great vibe that makes even this years show interesting.

    Good punters on here who know their stuff and a look at it with one aim winning! Not blinkered that their favouite can’t be put on the converyor belt at the bat of an eyelid from week to week.

    So Janet/Louis worth bearing in mind as they used Conway siters Irishness to allow Lois to wield the axe. Could mean deadlock if Janet in the bottom two “EVER” Especialy with an all new panel around.

    Other than that, where all social media trends at now? It dosen’t have same effect once the show gets settled me thinks, the show and producers are bigger than it.

    Looking forward to Little Mix article, who’d have thought we’d all be looking at a girls band this week! Fair play to all, that’s the job on here.

    Smiling on Sunday night not caring whose on the conveyer belt really until it gets down to having a real win bet but it is nice and interesting to try take value along the way for sure.

    • miskynoodle

      About acts not being able to choose their song is true so producer know before hand which acts they are sending out for the slaughter and not for one second do i think the judges are speaking for themselves i do believe the whole thing is orchastrated by the producers and the judges are saying what they are being told to say,simple as, and thats from inside imformation and the other thing that i ve noticed by following onlinebetting that most all bar one or two where taking bets on contestants that they new where no longer in the competition because it was public knowledge on theinternet, the only time there was nt any wool being pulled over our eyes was when they had no choice because the final sixteen were anounced.disappointed with the judges actually taking the jobs in the first place knowing they where going to be taking the public for a ride,just says it all to me about there personities.

      • mark

        Always wondered that, is there any proof to back up that they dont have a choice re the song?

        Surely they do as some weeks you hear the judge say the act picked it themselves etc?!

    • Ron

      When you look at the Maria vs Conways sing off, you’d wonder in retrospect if Louis was actually going along with the producer’s wishes. Perhaps he was told to do it in order to generate huge publicity for the show, but it was done in such a way to make it look as if Louis was a loose cannon and only saved the Conways because they were Irish.

      Knowing how scripted and manipulated the show is, it would have been an act of rebellion on Louis’s part to send home Maria if the producers wanted her to stay in the competition. Perhaps we’ve had the wool pulled over our eyes all along and the event was scripted from the start.

      • Donald

        Hi Ron,

        you are right, the writing was on the wall for Maria on Sunday morning after they made her sing Brown Sugar totally against her wishes the following Saturday.

        She was 33/1 to go after getting huge praise the night before for Beautiful which she nailed.

        Every since then I am careful of judges praise as the voting public have short memory week to week and always take very close look at song choice for any clues.

        I’d say all scripted from the start unless their plan is going wrong, then they alter it.

  • nugget

    Great article , for me , having been to many live recordings of this type of show, everything is always very planned, scripted and staged. From the engineered rows between the judges, to the comments made by contestants in the post performance interviews with Dermot. Nothing is left to chance.

    The judges tend to do as they are told by the producers and I have yet to see anyone break this (examples of this become clear when you look at the votes for bottom 2 and decisions of when to allow deadlock in previous series). The act the show WANTS to keep always gets through.

    Having said that though, this is a new panel so it remains to be seen if anyone dare to rebel 🙂

  • Curtis

    I don’t think either Cheryl of Dannii would have been prepared to save either Jedward or Wagner if push had come to shove. I’m not sure the show would’ve wanted them to either because it would’ve contradicted with their comments and judging image quite heavily. It would’ve been worse than Simon’s vote to save Jedward, which at least made some sense because he had been critical of Lucie throughout the competition.

    I do think this series could present a difficult situation to the producers at some point for the bottom 2. For example, if Frankie v Marcus ever happens, and they want to save Frankie, I think they’re going to find that tough if Frankie is bottom of the votes. You could get Louis and Gary to save Frankie, but I’m not sure either of the girls would. So far this series all the sing-offs were forgone conclusions. That could change.

    • mark adam

      How much longer will they push Frankie for though?

      I’d have thought if the show had even an OUNCE of integrity then whoever Frankie meets in the b2 should survive against him-he’s been AWFUL,

      yes last week was better than previous weeks, but that’s because he was so bad the weeks before that the expectations were low

      Surely Gary should save Marcus in Frankie v Marcus – Tulisa/Kelly deff save Marcus I’d have thought 3;1 Marcus if it was Frankie v Marcus

      • Boki

        But what would you think if Frankie vs Sophie happened? I think they gave us clues already in the Saturday show: Louis “you got your swagger back” and Tulisa “you were better vocally than expected”. So 3:1 for Frankie. Only problem imo is when someone totally unexpected enters bot2 with an act they want to keep. If they treat this week Marcus like Sophie last week (and public puts him bot2) I’m afraid he might even go home (but the clues should be there on Satruday).

      • Curtis

        Gary SHOULD save Marcus in Marcus v Frankie. Don’t think for one second that that means he will. The producers kept Katie Waissel in long enough. I’m aware that even she was better than Frankie, but it just shows that the producers are prepared to sacrifice the show’s integrity to keep the acts they want to keep in.

  • Tim

    A word of warning regarding this week’s bottom 2/elimination. The identified pattern from previous years’ weeks 4-7 could well mean that Frankie is next for the chop. We will have to wait and see but I can see him being axed on Sunday, with the top 9 acts all allowed on tour next year.

    • Rob

      Tim, please elaborate. last year aiden grimshaw and paige richardson were sacrificed at this point, which sort of suggests either craig or marcus are in the fireing line. i can’t think of a previous show having a frankie type character so i can’t really tell at what point the producers feel he’s fulfilled his purpose? although he does produce column inches in more ways than one…

      not saying you are wrong, just wondering about your reasoning?

      • Nugget

        I am getting slighlty worried about Frankie now,as he is not really creating the headlines this week (yet) which is surely his sole purpose on the show. I think if the producers feel that they have milked him for all he is worth publicity wise then they might just let him go this week. There is still no value in betting on him to go though at the moment and he clearly has a following that may even keep him out of the bottom 2 again. He is living on borrowed time now and it is clear he will be leaving in next 2-3 weeks maximum.

  • nugget

    Just looking at Sporting Bets specials.

    7/1 All 4 judges to give any contestant ( not guest acts 🙂 ),a standing ovation at the same time.

    Does anyone have any stats for this??

  • nugget

    Also Ladbrooks betting 1/2 Dermot to say “in no particular order” exactly twice this week.

    I think it has already been discussed what a good bet this is !!

    • mark

      Yep I put up last week about this mate when it was 2/5 now they’ve moved it to 1/2 (wrong way) based on assuming less contestants so more chance he says it once exactly once shortened to 7/5

      BUT look over all 2008/09/10 resutls and in particular for week 5 for those years ALWAYS said it twice, 1/2 is big on that as I said before It’s really like a 1/16 (look at the stats if doubting!)

  • Nicky

    Just seen this article on The Mirror website. It purports to be Derry Mensah’s response to the recent racism story. In it Derry insists Kitty did indeed racially abuse him and says the stress has made him ill. Is Kitty being ‘Mishered’?

    The possibility of the Judges being able to credibly save Frankie again might now be more viable, ie, if he were up against Kitty?

    • EM

      If I was a producer I’d be doing everything to prevent a Frankie v Kitty sing off this week as I’d be guaranteed to lose a “star” of the show.

      I’ve been thinking about who’s disposable for the show this week and Mischa topped my list at first. She’s just not that interesting but can you imagine if it came down to a Mischa v Kitty sing off? Ouch, imagine putting the alleged rasict through. Far safer to have someone else in the bottom two. Sacrifice a decent singer? Craig or Marcus depending on who’s their favourite. Sacrifice a “star” could the cooling of Johnny come into play. Has Frankie run his course?

      I think we might see a crucial sing off decision this weekend that could be very hard to predict.

      We’ll learn a lot on Saturday night but my feeling is a long priced act might go

      It may be this week they have to sacrifice one

    • Pete D

      Hi Nicky.
      Its getting to be sabotage city at the mo. Beats me how XF even allowed Derry to ‘speak out’ to the press when yesterday they said it was all sorted. So instead of gagging him under their strict contracts, they MUST have given it their blessing.

      Personally I don’t buy Derry being all hurt, upset and ill over this when it has been ‘rumoured’ that HE was involved with tough guy gangs and burglary.

      Was it perhaps he himself ‘bullying’ Kitty off the studio sofa from a deep sleep ‘just for a calculated reaction’ instead of exercising the ‘shy boy’ manners of the image that HE is trying to portray ? Kitty is very highly strung and it would have been dead easy to tip her over the edge.

      In the wake of Misha-gate, could this situation have been ‘engineered’ by THE RISK (and/or XF to boost them) so that someone could pull the ‘racist card’ to scupper the chances of a main threat (and to also take the heat off Misha to keep her in after her waining support)?
      OR, are they calculating that KITTY does a spectacular walk-out to gain ratings ?

      Love or hate this ‘Marmite’ girl KITTY, she has a lot of support and has the big voice to totally smash this week’s song theme challenge and shine on stage (along with the struggling Misha B).

      FRANKIE will likely be piffy this week by all the odds with his voice type. Do XF want some more mileage out of him too at the expense of KITTY ?
      Hmmmm, the plot thickens ??

      • mark

        When I read this story I was wondering if it was game over for Kitty – but perhaps not she does have a lot of support

        It could be as you say
        a) trying to take the heat off Misha
        b) Trying to boost The Risk with the classic ‘racist card’
        c) trying to sabotage Kitty

        I don’t really know what to think right now

  • Simon "le chat""

    The judgrd str hired and they all do as thery are told – at least they have so far.
    Kelly, Louis and especiallly Tulisa will all (continue to) tow the line. Let’s face it, if it wasnt for this program we would all be saying “Tulisa who?”.
    The only judge I believe might not tow the line is Gary because he doesnt need the money or fame that comes with the show. However he has by his own admission lied once about the quality of Frankies performance, and then did it again with CRAIGs when he called it “the best of the night”.
    He’s already gone down in my eyes but the taxing of loyalties will not come for a few weeks yet. The show has lost its feelgood factor with Bullygate and Kittygate and the latter with few enough friends already will face a singoff with Frankie or Misha or Craig sooon enough.
    Oh, and I dont believe for am moment that the judges dont know the notional result of deadlock – they massage their votes to suit the agenda and if the notional dealock suits the agenda, they heighten the tension by creeping towards it.

    The measure between this series and previous is the unpleasntness and nastyness that has crept it and the producers are going to want to stamp it out as soon as they can. That means KITTY. RISK and MISHA going while MARCUS sails happily on

  • bob

    Wow! 7/1 on a standing ovation seems AMAZING odds.My first thought in these situations is that I must be wrong but I’m fairly sure that at some point in from the last 4 weeks onwards it always happens.

    • nugget

      Hi Bob, that price is for it to happen on this Saturdays show only 🙂

      • bob

        Ah, in that case you can keep 7/1. Don’t think we’ve had two out of their seat yet. Unless this is the week Maqrcus goes through the roof or janet shows versatility and nails a club classic it won’t happen. 20/1 probably a fair price.

        • mark

          I’d thjink 20s is int he right direction, but still wouldn’t take it

          I can’t remember seeing a standing ovation from all judges ever..does anyone have any info on this?!

  • lolhart

    What convinced me that the judges know who comes bottom of the public vote were the voting stats from last year. If I remember correctly evey time Katie was not bottom the judges sent it to deadlock. If she was bottom they’d vote against the other act.

    The one time I’m not sure how the plan was supposed to work is when Katie and TreyC were in the bottom. Cheryl genuinely looked aghast when Dermot asked her to vote second. There was no way she could have voted TreyC off after Gamu-gate, but if she’d voted for Katie it would have made her look stupid for defending her the previous weeks. I guess if Cheryl had voted for Katie then Dannii would have had to vote against TreyC which would have damaged her credibility.

    A really interesting bottom 2 this year would be Little Mix v The Risk, as it would involve two acts who have been heaped with praise by the judges, and have the same mentor.

  • Rob

    just pondering with the derry/kitty thing going on in the press if anyone has ever looked at how positive/negative publicity affects voting on a weekly basis? maybe the subject of a future post perhaps?

    clearly misha b was damaged by bullygate, but why did it not kick in till a week later?

    it will be interesting how the judges respond to this weeks headlines. who will be the most damaged? will louis leap to kitty’s defence and portray her as more sinned against, or is kitty in for the misha treatment? either way it could mean one or both acts are irreparably damaged.

    • mark

      well it was the week directly after which makes sense to me as there was a week of bad press following what Tulisa said – had there been any bullying claims int he papers prior to this?

      or did the papers only run it after Tulisa picked up on it!?

  • tpfkar

    All the evidence is that judges are expected to support their own acts, and toe the line when it’s other acts. The nearest we’ve come to an exception is Katie/TreyC last year as lolhart recalls.

    I’ve seen no less evidence that the new judges are playing the game; I’d hoped Gary Barlow might be different, but ever since he’s been lumbered with Frankie he’s fitted straight into the mold.

  • Rob

    i’ve often spoken before of trends in the x factor and shifts in support. i sort of get these ideas listening to forums, watching the social media, but most of all by watching the show itself. here are some general trands i think i’m detecting, and i’d like to know if anyone agrees or disagrees?

    kitty, johnny and frankie get the same treatment week in week out i.e. the same amount of praise and useful places in the running order which as has been said in the past that they are there to entertain, to keep around until their purpose is served, but have no chance of winning.

    the risk, misha b and craig get erratic treatment, they are lavished with praise one week or have good slots, the next they are given graveyard slots and/or lukewarm feedback (ok there was misha b’s assassination that bucked that trend – but it wasn’t about her performance. this suggests to me that these are artists that are pretty good but the producers don’t want them to win.

    marcus and littlemix both started off low key, but then their profile has been gradually improved through good song choices and increasingly positive praise, which suggest to me they have been put on a trajectory and the producers want them to do well.

    janet’s trend appears to be unique to her. she has been given decent running order places and her feedback has been positive without it being gushing (except for perhaps the first week). just steady as you go. i can’t help feeling it’s being held back and gary’s semi negative comments seems to point to something more positive this week. either the producers are holding her back or they have lost interest. given i have money on her i favour the former.

    based on these trends i think the finalists will be marcus, littlemix and janet.

    what do others think of this analysis?

    • Rob

      btw all those three suggested finalists fulfill my ‘humble’ rule and i’d go so far to say for a year that’s been criticised as weak i think it would be a cracking final.

    • Boki

      If I remember correctly, LMix was called the best girl x-fac group from the beginning (!?) and praised ever since and their treatment looks like producers are really scared they will not get the votes. Last week they were givent great slot/song so it can only indicate they were in danger. Are they so good comparing to lot of girlbands before? I don’t get the hype…

      Janet’s running order was” 16, 4, 2, 6 so I wouldn’t really call it decent but I expect a pimp slot this or next week with “breakthrough” perfomance.

      • Rob

        agree boki, the trends are very general. i’d still call 4th and 6th decent for the favourite.

        also yes littlemix have been called the ‘best’ girl band from the start, but getting people to believe it and building support is another matter? i think this has been done gradually and astutely.

    • Pete D

      Hi Rob. Well I think that is a great astute analysis and coincidentally that is also my top 3 (and in that winning order too). I have been with Simon all the way on MARCUS right from the start BUT I have really switched on to LITTLE MIX to ‘possibly’ win this as instead.

      Regardless of my personal musical tastes and recognition of MARCUS’s all round talent and likability, I have to divorce myself from that and look at what XF and the voting ‘teen’ public want (AND if I also want to make some serious money out of what little outlay I have to spare right now).

      On reflection of what you have just written, go and have a look at the ‘straight forecast’ odds for a MC/LM or a LM/MC. There is a whopping 66/1 on both and they won’t be there for long once the bookies catch on to the changing trends. I just took my bets out on them today.

      I’m a sound engineer and so glad that someone else is hearing the rumble of that LITTLE MIX ‘Steamroller’ coming too as it means that I am not going deaf, LOL.

  • KingKong'sDong

    There is no way a girl band will win. Absolutely no chance of LM doing better than JLS or 1-D when those 2 bands had all the ammunition and the bigs guns firing behind them

    • Rob

      but my point was that it looks like the big guns are beginning to fire for them. consider them in a head to head with the risk. there’s nothing to like in the risk, nothing for teen girls to relate to – they are too old, not good looking enough, and the personalities ranging from dull as dishwater to outright urrgh (derry!). normal, ‘humble’ young girls with problems of their own are much more attractive. also look at it from producer point of view – they could do with a marketable girl band! they already have two boybands doing very nicely thank you.

      not saying they will win, but a top three finish will serve very nicely for both them and the producers

      • KingKong'sDong

        Agree with all your points about the crapness of the risk, but The Sun’s poll has prevented me from following your strategy

        • Rob

          it’s understandable, but i wouldn’t read too much into the sun poll. it shows there are only 16 percentage points between all contestants, with a massive 30% of ‘don’t knows’ and ‘don’t cares’. also in the poll misha b was 2nd favourite but no one expects her to be in the final now. i guess the main thing what the poll says is there isn’t a gnat’s todger between this lot and therefore the producers can make or break anyone as they see fit with some simple manipulation.

  • tom21

    I think a decent yardstick for groups is 1D who despite being (a) likeable and (b) massively pimped never got even close to winning it. Girlbands have historically, for whatever reason, done even worse, so unless there’s a very strong reason to think to the contrary (i.e. more than some positive comments from Louis!) I’ll be keeping away from The Risk and even more so Little Mix.

    With regard to the main article, Daniel, great post, but (I’m leaving myself open to being shot down here!) I think there is a precedent for the sing off going against plan. Looking back I recall a guy called Ashley (series 3, big hair, a lot of screen time but perceived as arrogant, for some reason had a penchant for ladies’ earrings…) who Louis voted off in the sing off and Simon was absolutely livid. I remember thinking at the time that that was not the party line. Of course this is ages ago and (even if true) perhaps the exception that proves the rule, but what I would say is that lumping on at 1.2 for Sami v Kitty is one thing, but in my view there was a chance (albeit a small one) of Misha being chucked (after all, if you take the bullying thing at face value then the producers wanted to damage her), so I wouldn’t say 1.08 was necessarily ‘free money’ – do you think it was that far off being priced right?

    • Daniel

      Hi Tom, this is the question that runs through my mind before I lump on at these short prices. Is there a chance that a shock is in the script?

      In the case of Sophie against Misha, I felt not: the show had shown no interest in keeping Sophie around at all, as we had already stated; Misha is highly marketable post X Factor.

      Bullygate was a way of boosting ratings that got a little out of hand. Having enacted their version of a kangaroo court, the judges involved had been forced to back down.

      It was inconceivable to me that they would send home Misha. The fact that Sophie came on first in the sing-off with a poor song choice only reiterated that this time it was free money: thus 8% was a perfectly good return for what I considered a 1.01 chance, for the show had already given us its answer before the judges cast their votes.

      That’s not to say that every 1.08 sing-off bet is like this – not at all. I was fortunate to lay Lucie Jones at a not dissimilar price when she lost her sing-off to Jedward in 2009.

    • Boki

      Hi Tom, Misha in bot2 was already a shock (even for them imo) so sending her would be a double shock since she was clearly not the plan. So the only danger last week was if they abandoned the first plan and make advantage of the new facts but in Misha’s case was hard to imagine.

    • Andrew

      Hi Tom, yes, I remember that Ashley McKenzie – the Sideshow Bob hairalike. You may be right about that, but don’t forget he’d been saved from the week 2 singoff and given the week 3 pimp slot and he still ended up in the bottom two, so they must surely have realised they’d be flogging a dead horse by saving him again. Which made me think Simon looking livid with Louis may have just been a “look how seriously the judges take their rivalry” thing. Hard to say.

    • Donald

      Hi Tom,

      short odds are fine and it does take nerve no matter how sure you feel. Daniel on a roll.

      I played hard against Frankie two weeks ago and was lucky to get away with it. In the end I came out in front but my bottle took a knock in the process.

      So last Sunday I changed tact and got stuck in at the bookies at 13/8 on Sophie. Was hard to get a big amount on but still plenty to get a decent return without huge risk.

      The short odds are fine but one mistake and it stings like a wasp.

      Maybe this the weekend for caution but still it has been reasonably predictable so far on the night. Lets see how Daniel feels.

      The Litte Mix to try figure out first. It goes against all reason but with a live final at Wembley etc. I think they could be far more of a threat that The Risk and with Janet not delivering they are starting to sweep up the teen market. Notice Niall One Diection even supporting them on twitter now and he was in the Janet camp. They certainly have a bit of positive momentum which is more than what most have at this stage this year.

      It is so different to past few years. No really obvious two yet.

      • tom21

        Thanks guys – totally agree everything seemed to point one way, was just happy to stick with what I got on during Saturday’s show 🙂

        As I said before, really interesting post (as always – couldn’t do without this site!) – looking forward to hearing your predictions re this weekend since as far as I can see it’s wide open…

  • Pete D

    Andrew. May I say (being a newbie here) that this has been one of the most interesting and informatively ‘in depth’ post subjects yet. It wakes one up from one’s personal attachments (or dis-attachments) to an act and helps to put one in the Judges shoes.
    Thank you too for the compliment in the use of my comm (honoured), though I did get it slightly wrong. As it is, I actually had a single ‘feelgood’ bet on FRANKIE to go (within my meager means of course) but regretfully I did not have a bet on that b2 combo. DOH !!

    • Andrew

      Thanks, Pete! Glad you enjoyed the article. Indeed it’s vital (and far from easy) to put aside personal likes and dislikes for punting purposes (I find it hard to assess my own capacity for objectivity where Craig and Marcus are concerned, for example). Which is why it’s great to have such a lively debate here to ensure one’s preconceptions are constantly challenged. Thanks for being part of the conversation.

  • Simon "le chat"

    If all things were equal, you might expect one of the boys to go this weekend so that each judge has two acts as the show moves into hardball stage.
    It still might be one of the boys ie Frankie who’s only place in the news this week has been boasting abut his conquests and upsetting Amelia Lilley.
    He’s an enigma all right, excellent at everything apart from what the show is supposed to be ie singing. However remember John Sergeant in strictly where the public kept him in week after week as some kind of protest. But one of the boys does have to go and it has to be Frankie or Craig- the producers would not risk jettisoning Marcus because he is the most entertaining of them all and a sure certainty to put on a good performance week in week out.
    One spot in the bottom is Frankie or Craig.

    Who gos in the other? I believe KITTY is in trouble with DERRYGATE. Unlike other similar allegations in the news this week KITTY and the show are not denying the allegation but trying to limit the damage by making excuses. Thing is there are no excuses or no acceptable ones for what she said whih makes Kitty a loose cannon and with live shows cranking up the jam, she is too risky to keep and time to get rid.

    Bottom 2 Franky/Craig and Kitty – whichever of Craig/Kitty makes it there goes, and if it is both, Kitty goes.
    Hope you can follow this!

    MARCUS down to Evens in places for top bot. CRAIG marginally favourite of the three but going ou all the time – probably because folk are getting wise to CRAIG’s inferiority on the general electorate appeal. That 7/2 a week or so ago looks like it was fab value!
    Finall there seems to be a strong undercurrent for Little Mix. I dont see them winning but I think they could get to the final. Now 12/1 in places, probably because so many of the other acts who were in front of them have feesed up, but also due to their good singing and likeability.

    • Rob

      generally agree except that there appears to be confusion on the kitty/derry thing, as the sun reports she has apologised (according to ‘a source’), but her denying it on twitter. it could be played out two ways also – she could be given a misha style dressing down ot it could backfire on derry with him being painted the villain for stirring up trouble and making unsubstantiated claims. even so agree kitty is still looking at bottom 2, but perhaps not a certainty to be voted off.

  • Donald

    Just read report online that Kelly back but now Tulisa has “come down with a bug and has cancelled all promotional work until further notice”.

    Another addition to the puzzle for this weekend elimination?

    • mark

      So they’ve agreed to both work on x factor but hate each other so much they wont appear on the show at the same time?

      Apparently the Tulisa announcement came hours before Kelly got back in the UK

  • Tim

    Tulisa tweeted tonight that she had dinner at Gary Barlow’s house, or at least with him. Hardly sounds like the actions of a sick person.

  • bob

    I think Kitty has denied using the racist term but apologised for lashing out at Derry. It’s not been huge news though I don’t think. I think the show still want kitty in so I dont think it will be mentioned.

  • Tim

    After 2 female eliminations it surely has to be a boy in the firing line this week. Knives could be out for FRANKIE but I think that him, CRAIG and JOHNNY are in danger of bottom 2.

    A group hasn’t had the pimp slot yet so I expect THE RISK to be given a fair crack at the whip after opening the show last week.

  • Lee

    Great read as ever people…

    I may be a week early here (especially now with the Kitty racism thing) but I have had a bet on Johnny to go at 10s.

    Although social media etc isn’t an indicator on who stays or goes, he is so low on twitter, facebook, YouTube and iTunes that it made me think about him.

    Someone referred in an earlier post about the language used towards him last week. It was all very ‘you’ve done what you set out to do’.

    I also feel the novelty tag has been taken away from him and if he’s being judged as a credible act, he is bottom of the pile apart from this year’s ‘novelty act’ in different clothing Frankie.

    Kitty and Johnny bottom 2 is 20/1 which looks a bit big too.

    I think a lot of the other acts’ fans will be motivated to vote this week, with lots of ‘don’t take it for granted they’re safe after what happened to Misha last week’ chat from the judges.

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