X Factor 2012: Rumour round-up

We’re only a week away from the X Factor, with the first audition show due to air next Saturday at 8pm. While Dug will be back in the interim with coverage of Monday’s Big Brother final, we thought we’d take this opportunity to check in on what’s been happening with ITV’s  autumn behemoth over the summer.

Auditions and bootcamp have been filmed already. And the media machine has certainly been cranking up through the gears, with a drip-drip of tabloid fodder including the odd-sounding plan to get acts duetting with holograms of dead people (too late, alas, for Marcus Collins to grace a stage with Jackie Wilson).

The big leak so far has been the categories – reportedly Gary Barlow is lumbered with the overs, new girl Nicole Scherzinger gets the boys, Tulisa looks after the girls and Louis has the groups.

What do we make of the build-up so far? Here are five questions on which the Sofabet team cordially invite your opinions.

1. How much rainforest will be felled to print tedious stories about Nicole and Tulisa not getting on?

That the two female mentors have apparently been given the two strongest categories strongly suggests that behind-the-scenes tittle-tattle alleging a glamorous bitch-fight will be one of the major plotlines of the season.

Beautiful women not getting on – it’s a tabloid staple. It’s also a page ripped right from the Cheryl-Dannii playbook. In the world of X Factor, there is not much new under the sun.

2. What do producers have in mind with Gary and the overs?

Last time the alpha judge got the overs was the last time the overs were taken seriously. Cowell went into bat with Olly Murs, Danyl Johnson and, er, Jamie Afro. Compare and contrast last year’s lineup of Johnny Robinson, Kitty Brucknell and Sami Cruiseship.

Will Gary be similarly blessed? Not according to this story about the age limit being raised to 28 again, on the grounds that last year “Lots of girls and boys in their late twenties auditioned but there was no room for them because the Over-25s category had to have the quirky older ones in it to make it work.”

Which raises the possibility that producers are intending to exasperate Gary by saddling him with, say, a 74 year old sex kitten who has a crush on him. They’ll surely have to find at least one serious contender for him, though, won’t they?

Gary, incidentally, is following the same new-judge trajectory as Dannii – first the boys, then the overs. Recall that Dannii’s reward for masterminding the disastrous victory of Leon Jackson in her debut year was having to say nice things about Daniel Evans.

3. What treats await with Louis’s groups?

Louis and the groups! Last time that happened, we got Jedward. The time before, we got JLS.

Do producers have another treat in store? Or were they simply thinking that it would look silly to give Louis the overs for the third year in a row?

4. How will they handle the returning contestants?

It has been reported that several of last years’ judges’ houses rejects – Jade Richards, Melanie McCabe, Sian Philips, Joe Cox, Carolynne Poole – have auditioned again. What’s in store?

At least one of them must surely be being lined up for the John Wilding “agonising second rejection” treatment. Most agonising of all would be Jade. But would they dare?

With reports that groups have yet again been formed at bootcamp, might there be potential for someone to get the Liam Payne “agonising second rejection followed by shortcut to global domination” treatment?

It seems to us that this is slightly dangerous territory for the show. Letting one or two second-chancers through is fine, but this many re-auditionees from just one year ago risks looking like a tacit admission that (a) they put the wrong lot through in 2011 and/or (b) there’s no fresh talent out there. On the subject of which:

5. How much of a difference will it make that managers are allowed?

One of the changes for this year’s show is that acts with existing management are allowed to enter – or, perhaps, are spared the need to perform contortions to liberate themselves from their existing management.

This has filled some column inches already, with stories focusing on groups called From Above – managed by Beyonce’s dad – and Jukeboxx, managed by a former X Factor consultant who allegedly had some kind of role in the public appearance of that Tulisa sex tape.

Is this going to be a prominent plotline of the show? If Gary had got the groups, you could imagine him pulling off a “now now, Tulisa, I think we all know why you’re being unfairly harsh on these lads” – but surely not Louis. It may be that producers will prefer not to draw attention to the whole management thing – after all, to some extent they surely need to keep open the impression that X Factor is fundamentally about someone completely unknown turning up at an audition.

Before we close, a bit of housekeeping. As eurovicious noted, the comments have “gone all high tech” – you should now be able to log in to post comments using your Facebook or Twitter credentials, should you wish to do so. This happened after your techno-dunce Sofabet team finally got around to upgrading to the latest version of WordPress; we don’t think we’ve broken anything in the process, but if you spot any glitches, please let us know.

What are your thoughts on the above, and what other questions are you looking forward to seeing answered in this year’s show? As always, do let us know below.

13 comments to X Factor 2012: Rumour round-up

  • annie

    I can’t believe it’s ‘here we go again’ time already :).
    I’ve scanned through spoilers on digital spy and it seems the only one who made it through judges houses again is Carolynne Poole. I actually liked what I actually liked what I’ve heard from her last year, but somehow I feel she doesn’t have that edge that would make them want to carve a winner from her. So she might very well be the agonising second rejection.

    • Andrew

      Good to have you back, annie! 🙂

      So is this what they’re up to, perhaps – “all these people who very nearly got through judges’ houses last year, and this year they’re not even good enough to make it past bootcamp. See, the standard this year is so much higher…” 😉

  • Boki

    Indeed, I also didn’t realize it’s so close, looking forward to it after few months break. Gary’s stories seems to be contradictory since he repeatably doesn’t like joke acts so he would look really stupid if he gets lot of them. So either they will limit the amount of jokes and give at least one good over or decide for a new strategy this year since we already read how the standard this year is much higher bla bla. Anyway, I placed already a small bet on Gary as the winning manager, he doesn’t deserve to be 5/1.

  • Dan

    The months are really flying by aren’t they? My initial thought for the series is what are they looking for this year? I reckon that we’ll have a winner in the girls category – over 28s are usually a joke category (although it should be interesting to see what Barlow does with them), a group won last year, and winners from the boys category have had little commercial success and the powers that be are not going to want another Matt Cardle on their hands. Specifically, I think they are hoping for third time lucky with the urban-type young female where Misha B and Cher Lloyd haven’t captured the popular vote in the past. Quick post and dash – back with more thoughts later.

  • Tim B

    But surely producers know that kind of female urban vote doesn’t fly by now? Another option is the Adele/Leona style power belter, maybe with assistance a Scottish/Northern Irish regional support?

  • I remember Carolynne Poole (née Good) from when she came 3rd in Fame Academy 2 back when I was a sprat. At the time she was my favourite, but I don’t understand why she’s now repeatedly auditioning for X Factor almost a decade on? I have no problem with Jade Richards et al reauditioning as they didn’t make the live shows and deserve another shot (like Alexandra Burke), but I have very mixed feelings about people who reaudition after already being successful on other series. OK, so it’s not as egregious as Kerry Ellis, Sean Five or Thingy Five-Star on The Voice (I swear they were bribed) or post-G4 Jonathan auditioning for Jesus, but even so, it doesn’t sit well with me. I don’t want to say “she’s too old” (though arguably she is for the show’s demographic), but… there are other ways to make a music career. Gigs, graft and social media.

  • Dr Rich

    My view of Jade was that she had the type of voice that might struggle to stand up to the constant demands of the live shows. Then again it wouldn’t be the X factor if we didn’t have the dramatic voice/sickness story around week 6 or 7

    Huge fan of your Eurovision work guys, looking forward to more riches in the coming months.

  • Today in Eurovision/X Factor crossover news: Joe off of “Donna and Joe” (for it is they) is rumoured to be through to bootcamp…


    • Andrew

      I’m always slightly amazed that there are still people who turn up to audition and are surprised by any of this. It’s not as if it’s a new show and hard to research the process.

      I join them in a holding area in the public car park of the O2. There’s a row of ten Portaloos, some fold up chairs and not much else. They wait, and they wait, and they wait.

      I suppose this is all designed to ensure that the entitled ones have frayed tempers by the time they get on stage, and show producers who will patiently put up with anything.

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