X Factor 2011 Review Part 4 – The Running Order and Sympathy Bounce

This is the fourth article in our review of the 2011 series. You can see our favourite ten posts of the 2011 series here.

There are a couple of basic concepts of X Factor betting that we refer to often on Sofabet – the running order and the sympathy bounce. Let’s see how well they held up in 2011.

To start with a special case of the running order, we should mention – again – the remarkable run of predictability of the running order in the singoff. The second act to sing is saved. We mentioned in the 2010 review articles that this had happened every time but one in 2010, and it happened every single time in 2011.

At some point, this pattern will surely be broken, so it’s not one punters should rely on in the absence of other reasons to call the singoff for the second act. But when the act you’re expecting to be jettisoned is called first, it is certainly a reassurance.

What of the running order in the Saturday show? Let’s take the top half dozen acts in turn, starting with Little Mix:

Little Mix running order vote performance(A note on these graphs: The line shows vote relative to mean, the grey bar represents how far through the show they sang. So with a pimp slot – e.g. week 5, for Little Mix – the bar goes right to the top of the graph; when opening the show – as in week 8 – there is no bar. The higher the bar, the later they sang).

Little Mix’s vote performance tracks their running order quite neatly. Notably, their vote ticks down with a poor slot in week 3 (4/11) and ticks up again with a good slot in week 4 (10/11). Week 5 is an aberration, with their weak performance from the pimp slot, but they peak again in week 7 with a decent slot (6/7) and fall back again in week 8 when they open the show.

Now for Marcus:

Marcus Collins running order vote performance

Marcus’s chart is not such a good fit, given that he saved himself from the week 3 death slot with a barnstorming performance and his much-praised series peak of week 5’s ‘Reet Petite’ came from a mid-show slot. He also underperformed horribly from the pimp slot in week 7 with the ill-advised Reverend Sunshine routine for ‘Higher and Higher’, a fact which was put to good use in choosing which songs to reprise for the final.

Third-placed Amelia:

Amelia Lily running order vote performance

Amelia’s is pretty much what you’d expect, her two best votes coming from the week 6 and 8 pimp slots (while she technically got the pimp slot on the final Saturday, too, this was deceptive, as we explained in our Saturday show post-mortem).

Here’s Misha B:

Misha B running order vote performance

Misha’s chart is explained better by the sympathy bounce than by the running order, more on which in a moment. Nonetheless, she did well from the pimp slot in week 3 despite bullygate, only just below the series best performance which followed the ‘Estranged Parents’ VT in week 7.

In fifth place, Janet Devlin:

Janet Devlin running order vote performance

The story of Janet’s chart is of how a series of unhelpful early-to-middle slots helped to bring her down to earth from her high early votes.

Craig’s is the last worth looking at:

Craig Colton

And it’s a classic pattern – his peak coincides with the week 4 pimp slot, with a couple of subsequent early slots dragging him back down and culminating in his week 7 elimination when he opened the show.

On the whole, we see no reason for 2011 to challenge our tenet of faith that, all else equal, late slots are a sign of producer favour and early slots a sign of either disfavour or confidence.

What of the sympathy bounce? It worked pretty much like clockwork. Only four acts were saved from a singoff all series – Misha three times, Kitty twice, and Amelia and Frankie once each. The graph shows their trendlines from the first save onwards, with saves represented by square data points:

X Factor 2011 sympathy bounce

Week 2’s save, Frankie, didn’t get much of a sympathy bounce, which is not hugely surprising given that he was generally seen as lacking in both talent and likeability. His vote upticked only slightly in the week after his bottom two appearance, and in the two following weeks producers did just enough to keep him above the dangerzone before his departure in mysterious circumstances after week 5.

Week 3’s save, Kitty, got a substantial bounce. As so often, it lasted only one week before she crashed back down to earth, and with the judges working against her in week 6 she failed to bounce for a second time.

Week 4’s save, Misha, also got a substantial bounce and also crashed right back to earth, needing to be saved again in week 6. In contrast to Kitty, producers did all they could to help Misha enjoy a second bounce in week 7, with the VT of her tearfully bonding with mentor Kelly.

Once again, she crashed right back again and needed to be saved in week 8, which saw Amelia enjoy a substantial bounce after her week 7 save.

In week 9, the semi-final, the combination of Amelia’s comedown and a small bounce for Misha brought the two very close together. We would bet that producers hadn’t anticipated them being this close, or they would have tried harder to push Misha past Amelia and into the final.

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1 comment to X Factor 2011 Review Part 4 – The Running Order and Sympathy Bounce

  • annemarie

    If Week 8 had gone to ‘deadlock’ Janet would have been in the semi final. She would surely then have had a ‘sympathy bounce’ vote in Week 9: enough to get her in to the final? She then may have gone on to win. We will never know! Listened again to Under the Bridge and Chasing Cars again, the two latter songs she sang in Week 8. She did an excellent job with both. Yes, she messed up Mmm Bop that week but this song was just totally not her, so no real surprise she slipped up with it. The judges really did Janet a disservice by not allowing the vote to go to ‘deadlock’! Releasing the voting figures after the winner is announced kind of pours cold water on the victory when the unfairness of the show is blatantly transparent.

    The X Factor judges and TPTB of the series appear to have tunnel vision in their approach to the artists. It appears all they want is a generic pop act to win. And again this year they got one in Little Mix. As has been said many times, the voting public are not necessarily the record buying public. The record buying public has a wide range of musical tastes and this is perhaps why most of the X Factor winners have not been particularly successful recording artists. When we buy music it is to listen to: we are not necessarily locked in to the visual aspect of the singer. Whereas the X Factor appears to approach an artist’s image from the other perspective: visual portrayal first, followed by vocals. Obviously, because it is a TV show. It is not say visual image is not important but it is the music that the public is primarily buying. On this premise and its current formula, it appears the X Factor will continue to produce generic winners with short career spans and thus the brand itself probably has a limited shelf life. Perhaps the X Factor needs to look again at the range of music bought by the public and reflect this more widely in the show. One size does not fit all!

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