X Factor 2012 Week 9: Who is the AntiChris?

It seems like every week the key question after each Saturday show is the same – so, do they think they can get Christopher out this week, or are they merely trying to drag him off a commanding position at the top of the votes with a longer-term eye on making sure he loses in the final?

The show opened with confirmation from Dermot that there would be no singoff. We have always viewed this as being likely to indicate that producers expected Christopher to be in the top two of the voting – because if that’s the case, why subject either James or Jahmene to the ignominy of being saved in a singoff the week before the final?

But they certainly seemed to change tack with Christopher this week, wheeling out a couple of tactics we’ve been waiting to see for a while – one with each performance.

One of the tried and tested tactics for deflating the support of an act that’s been raking in sympathy and mischief votes is to suggest that they’ve already achieved everything they need to and their journey is thus over. Tonight – as Jack noted in the comments – we got our first plays from that playbook from the judges, with Nicole and – especially significantly – Tulisa offering nothing that could motivate anybody to reach for their phones.

Louis, bless him, generally seems the purest indicator of producer thinking and his lines after Chris’s first performance – “you’ve done enough to change your life, you never have to go back to your old job” – were practically word for word what did for Mary Byrne at this stage of the competition two years ago. The implication is “if you’re voting for Christopher to help him change his life, there’s no need any more! Really, stop now!”

On the other hand, ‘You Raise Me Up’ – dedicated to “me nan”, with whom we saw him share some moments – was sure to delight his voters. It felt to us like producers were keen to take the steam out of sympathy votes, without minding the song choice motivating votes from fans of Chris’s vocals.

That all changed with song two, though. Another thing we’ve been wondering about for weeks is whether the show would ever lumber him with an unsuitable, modern song choice. Bingo! Chris proved himself to be no Michael Buble, against a backdrop of red-and-black clocks, which – as Nicky hypothesised in the comments – might have been intended to suggest subliminally the idea of his time running out.

The show indulged in a bit of cheeky revisionist history in the VT, suggesting that all the bad comments Chris has had over the weeks were nothing to do with him personally and all to do with the fact that he was singing 80s power ballads week after week. Comments from judges continued the pigeonholing of Chris as an old-timey one-trick pony, with Nicole telling him “it’s not your fault” and Louis saying “you are what you are and I love you doing the old songs”.

It was Gary who delivered perhaps the most damaging comment, saying “we’re pointing out the kind of artist he’s going to be”. Are fans of Chris’s vocals going to vote to propel him towards an album that sounds like that?

In all, it felt like a “serious go” at Christopher, as Donald put it in the comments – and more focused and likely to be successful than the previous weeks over-the-top efforts. But is it really intended to get him out tonight? We still very much doubt it, given the lack of singoff. It’s asking a lot for him to fall from never having been in the bottom two to underneath an act that’s been there three times.

It seems to us that this was done with a view to the final, towards taking the steam out of Chris’s runaway train and ensuring he can’t muster the coalition of admirers and mischief-makers he’d need to win it. But let’s imagine for a moment that Chris has the 33.4% support that Richard Betsfactor notes he would need to get into the top two. Who would the show like to be there with him? Who is the AntiChris?

Jahmene started his evening with an emotion-packed segment dedicated to his late brother, who had committed suicide. Once again there was plenty of religious imagery around him – he sang on what looked like a staircase to heaven, got the backing of a choir, and in a tearful response Nicole managed to reference the “baby Jesus” as well as calling him a “little angel”.

He kicked off the second round of proceedings with another “little angel” in his introduction from Nicole. We were reminded of Jahmene’s “wow” moment at his first audition, and it all felt like it should be comfortably enough to get him safely through to the final.

James had more of a mixed evening. His performance of U2’s ‘One’ – dedicated to the siblings back home we saw him talking to on his SAMSUNG TABLET – underwhelmed both the markets and Sofabet commenters such as Andy C and Luke. He did get some helpful camerawork towards the start of the performance, giving him plenty of chance to connect with the audience at home as he followed the camera circling around him.

The judges’ comments could hardly have been more positive. Not only did they leave viewers in no doubt that James is the true musician in the competition, Tulisa interestingly chose to confront head-on the sentiment that James doesn’t need to win as he’ll get a deal anyway.

This idea of avoiding complacency about his future prospects was laid on with a spade in James’s second VT, as he told us “I have to win” and thanked people who’d been voting for him, saying he hoped they understood how much he wanted to go all the way. The styling for ‘The Power Of Love’, was questionable – a red-and-black broken heart? Then again, it plays into the show’s portrayal of James as a ladykiller, and hearts are traditionally red.

Certainly the reaction felt like a good old-fashioned pimping. He got the first multi-judge standing ovation that we can remember of this series, with a “performance of the series” from Gary and Tulisa saying how “proud” she would be if he were to be announced as the winner. After both performances, we got a “representing Britain” line from one of the judges, something the show often uses to try to pimp a favoured act over the line.

Nonetheless, the fact that James shortened slightly in the next elimination market reflects that such positive treatment raises a nagging question – was all this intended to set James up as the AntiChris, or does it suggest he’s in trouble and needs all that help just to try to get him through safely to next week?

It’s hard to disagree that Union J deserve to be odds on after a “very unmemorable” evening, in EM’s words. They were always going to struggle to follow the emotion of Chris’s and Jahmene’s opening VTs, but it still felt a little flat when they dedicated their first performance to their fans. That would be the fans who’d let them fall into the bottom two three times in eight weeks, then.

The performance of ‘Beneath You’re Beautiful’ felt like it will have delighted their demo, but probably not been a gamechanger with any floating voters – in other words, perhaps a performance with an eye on flogging some records after the show as opposed to getting them to the final. It’s amusing that Louis is no longer able to keep a straight face when delivering the “next big boyband” line.

For their next trick, Union J tried to persuade us that covering a Westlife classic was their idea, not Louis’s. The onesie skit was fun, but the whole “Uncle Louis” thing didn’t do a great deal to help MK1, as tpfkar noted. Their lighting was all over the place, and lyrically, “I’m Already There”  doesn’t exactly motivate people to vote to get them further. There were plenty of references to them having been in the bottom two a lot already, which felt more likely to convey a sense that they’re just not that popular than a sense that they desperately needed votes.

All in all, then, we felt the headlines of tonight look something like this: Jahmene likely sailing through; Chris most probably through as well, but a more successful deramp this time with a view to next week; a debateable night for James; and Union J likely heading home.

How did you read it? As ever, do let us know below.


36 comments to X Factor 2012 Week 9: Who is the AntiChris?

  • I know this sounds really half baked, but this is what I am musing might be the plan.

    Disclaimers: Not even watched the first half of the show yet, other than watching the 30 second voting round up. So only half way through!

    Secondly, this is just one complete guess at what’s going on, by all means rip it to pieces.

    They know Chris is way ahead, so they only have three options left. Jahmene must survive at all costs for the reasons Andrew suggests – he’s the AntiChris (love it!), so either of the other two are good to go, with the massive preference of Union J.

    They’d like a final two of JamJar, James has polled lower normally, he’s going to have a career, so he’s Plan B in case Plan J goes wrong.

    Jahmene must get through so he’s pimped. In their mind they reckon James would end up third, so give him some decent songs, but hints of Kye Fawkes and plenty of Red and Black will make him a decent back up option if Plan J goes wrong.

    So take Christopher and his treatment out of the equation and it looks like a sort of Jar 1, Jam 0, J -1 situation to me!

    As I said on Wednesday, Christopher is a special monster. They want it gone, know it probably won’t happen, but still – no harm in trying! Shove Red and black clocks, a really weak Devlin style Buble number and lukewarm VT’s. Might as well try and soften him up a bit.

    When I scanned through the first half I tweeted saying I thought they were playing fair in the semi, but the second set of songs suggested otherwise!

    Always good to write a mammoth post having only seen half the show isn’t it, but that’s where I reckon we’re at.

  • Boki

    I agree 100%, was also underwhelmed by James but after so much pimping it’s hard to see anyone but UJ out.

  • annie

    I’m a bit fearful for James. I don’t think neither of his songs worked as well as they should have, I thought the staging fr the second was tiring. One is such a classic, but a bit overused and i don’t think the way it was changed up worked really well. And he is coming down from the bounce. Onion J’s both songs were tearjerkers, the first a contemporary, the second something for the mature audience(wasn’t this the song that got JLS to top the semi final?)

    • That’s a very good point, annie! It was indeed. Counterpoints: JLS’s “I’m Already There” was from the pimp slot, UJ’s from mid-show; JLS had had 1/3 the singoff appearances of UJ; and in Diana, Eoghan and Alex, JLS probably had less competition for the mature audience vote than UJ do in the shape of Chris and Jahmene.

      You could also (optimistically!) use JLS as a positive precedent for James – singoff save in week 7, pimp slot and topped the votes in week 9.

      • annie

        Let’s hope for the best (…I’m rooting for James), but as I said my worry is that I felt there was something not quite clicking with either of his songs, despite the heavy pimping and backing by judges.(as louis would say, there was somethig missing I am not sure what exactly) And one thing I think chris’s example shows that this year most voters love their good songs sang simply nicely. No mash-up, no ‘making it your own’ (At our let’s call it water cooler I have casual viewers, they watch x factor as a saturday night entertainment and they get really excited when they hear a song they know, sang in a good way, they don’t expect much else, originality or credibility, or anything along those lines, relevant for a recording artist). So back to James, ‘One’ was dubstepped a bit and the popular John Lewis tune sounded very different as well, it was James’ own. (as is everything else)… whereas the nice boyband( sang two teary ballads… nicely. I hope for the best, but I just had this feeling at the end of the show that that James might be close to bottom.

  • Did anyone else pick up on Louis saying that he didn’t want to see Union J “in the bottom two again”? Perhaps producers are planning a bottom two with no sing-off tomorrow, in the unlikely event that Chris falls into the danger zone? Judges voting on acts’ previous performances only?

    I know it’s probably not going to play out like that, but after the last few weeks nothing surprises me anymore.

    • Boki

      Yes, heard that but he was probably just senile 🙂

    • Donald

      I would say that if Christopher in bottom two anything could happen and whatever they have said would go out the window, they are not giving up, probably softening for next week though. Start of show tomorrow might give few indicators. They did have him out of his comfort zone tonight for first time and they capitalised on it with judges comments so if they keep on that tact this far from over.

      Logic says UJ bottom but James far from safe I reckon, not a good night for him, two very strange song choices, which when you really look at could be his undoing. Maybe they have wanted UJ in the final?

      Final Of Jahmene, Christopher and UJ might give them best chance to topple Christopher. The big ? for tomorrow is where will Rylan votes go?

      Lets see if any movement in betting tomorrow. but at the price James worth some interest based on song choice alone I feel.

      Not much value around really though so a tomorrow job.

      Another thing to watch tomorrow night maybe is if Rod is asked who he fancies to win? Wonder will he answer Chris?

      And if Chris gets to final will Dermot have to up the “shock waves around the world to around the universe. They used every trick they possibly could again tonight.

  • AnthonyMC

    I noticed dermot was hitting home “dial carefully ” in the final recap, especialy as they had swapped jahmene and chris’ position therefore the vote numbers went 2134 instead on 1234. Do you think they could be trying to push some of Chris’s sympathy votes onto jahmene after the critical judge comments?

  • Kevin O Reilly

    did they just harness a suicide to garner profit?

  • Dug

    I didn’t get to watch live tonight so refrained from checking in until I’d watched the full repeat. Hello everybody. James’ second number was actually my favourite of his so I was mildy surprised to see how underwhelmed many were. It occurs to me that if red and back really does work as a dampener (deliberate or not) then it would have to be a specific kind of red and black. When we’re talking about swirling backdrops and oppressive lighting then golds and blues are going to be refreshing and uplifting where fire and brimstone might be a bit off-putting. But a neon heart glowing out of the darkness doesn’t exactly conjure Hades and neither did the raunchy red light district arrangement for week 3’s ‘Sexy And I Know It.’ The colours only really form full connotations in combination with shapes etc.

    I can’t remember a year where the two presumed vote leaders were quite so disastrously unmarketable and I imagine there will be heads rolling all over the place behind the scenes – probably those of completely innocent runners and interns.

    I read most of the show as an attempted pimp on James at the expense of the others. Considering the fact that Chris and Jahmene constantly seem safe and UJ have bottomed more recently than James, the extra push might well have been necessary to keep the latter afloat. If producers can’t have a marketable winner then they can at least do their best to establish an artist in the hopes that his post-show career will go some way to wards redeeming the whole disaster. However if a third place finish really does look likely for James then the ‘you should be the winner’ spiel was a little mental.

    I rather like to imagine that after last year’s epic war on Janet Devlin was finally over, producers felt a sad sort of comedown and decided to make things even harder for themselves this year. I picture programme makers in three year’s time passing a crack pipe around a giant glass table. “What if,” one will say, “what if we put a sassy black lesbian in the mix with eleven dreary yet regionally identified crooners and still try to push her for the win?”

    “I can’t feel anything,” another will say, “seriously, punch me dude. This is incredible, I don’t feel a thing. Hit me.” The meeting will be punctuated intermittently by the trickling sound of some exec lazily pissing himself in his chair.

  • Nicky

    Dubious subliminal:

    I noticed after watching Shakey’s second song again that the ticking clocks stopped at the end. They were all stuck on about 17.25, i.e., just before home time!

  • Ben Cook

    I reckon James won the semi after “The Power Of Love”. Everything still to play for.

  • EM

    Anne and Queen Bea’s comments in the other thread are quite informative. The song Jahmene claims to have sung at his brother’s funeral (2008 according to any sources) wasn’t released until 2009.

    I suppose it could be an honest mistake or it could be massive pimping porkies.

  • Heisenberg

    Every instinct is telling me that James is in grave danger. Current odds of 7/1 (and shortening) are calling out to me.

    • Donald

      I tend to agree, at the price got to be worth a go, song choice and coming down from bounce at 7/1 could be the bet of the day cover split the outlay against UJ and Christopher just in case. H

      Has anyone thought that maybe Jahmene needed all the pimping? maybe they needed to dampen James to make absloutely sure of Jaheme getting through as dampening UJ unlikely to achieve swing to achive that.

      We are dealing with bottom two regulars UJ and James coming down from bounce with a far from good night last night song choice wise and maybe the voting just above Rylan and UJ last week had James with the bounce ahead of Jahmene and if leaks correct Christopher on top.

      So maybe voting last week was like this?
      2. James,
      3. Jahmene,
      4. UJ
      5. Rylan.

      With UJ due to bounce yet again to the final and a strong night, maybe just maybe the above would account for the sort of strange night James seem to have at their hands last night and all the pimping of Jahmene.

      And if the voting tight at the bottom anything could happen, so in covering equation include Jahmene to some extent.

      Then that leaves Christopher but as Daniel said above probably dampening for next week but they did their best job on him last night.

      James looks in danger for sure but as written the playing field might be closer that the odds are reflecting between James and Jahmene.

      I thought by keeping him down the steps last night singing it could be seen as call out to his fans lets get him to the top.

      After Ella and James bottom two anything can still happen.

      Sorry for long reply, was going to post this but we are in the same mind set but the above needs considering I think.

      What a shocked if Jahmene did not make the final for them so James is the more expendable of the two for the show as already hit bottom 2. That would explain their behaviour with James last night and song choice is their real cloak and dagger weapon I think.

      • Jack

        You know, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if this were true. I did say it felt like Operation “Get Jahmene to the Final”. Still going for Chris/Jahmene Final Two.

      • I agree with everything written here.

        Its operation “Get Jahmene to the Final” and stop UJ from over taking Jahmene in the votes this week.

        James’ first song was poor, but with continual praise and then the pimping int he second song, that will be enough for him to keep the additional support he gained from last weeks “lets’ get it on” (1.4mil views on youtube, no other act over 200k views)

        UJ will be gone.

        I suspect this will leave a final of Jahmene leaving on the Saturday, making for plenty of headlines in Sundays papers.

        Chris v James

        Uncredible v Credible, which will certainly boost their ratings for the final which is what they want and James coming out on top.

        James 1st and Chris 2nd was 8-1 this week, I have backed and fully expect it to land providing both escape elimination tonight. Dont think their is any other danger of Jahmene/UJ finishing above 3rd.

      • Ben Cook

        What are you talking about? They didn’t dampen James. They said he gave the performance of the series.

        • There was two performances, and like most they only remember the last performance they saw.

          The first one, although met with good comments, was clearly not one of James’ best performances this series.

          But the fact that people only remember the last performance they saw, it will be enough to keep him above UJ.

          I think they did dampen him in his first performance, but just enough that it wont let him go, but with the 2nd performance enough to pick him back up and on route to imo “winning”

          The prices would be different this week if James’ performances where reversed, instead of viewers being inspired by Power of Love, they would have been left with nothing if “one” would have been performed last.

          The same effect can be said of leaving Christophers abuse saved for his second performance, enticing those fans to vote for him again.

  • WideOfTheMark

    Heisenberg – uan unusual display of certainty – which I happen to share as it happens and have tinkered out of neuutral position into a 15/2 bet against

  • WideOfTheMark

    gosh sorry – how many typos in one post. An unusual display – 15/2 bet against james – ie for his elimination

  • Jake Kl

    Was gonna say a few things when live shows finished last night but couldnt log in for some reason and seems people have been sharing my thoughts.
    Im still rooting for UnionJ, mainly b/c their 2nd song reminded me of JLSs defeat to Alex and James was highly pimped last night. Other 2 were safe in my books anyway.
    Pretty dull semi-finals overall, only really good performance was James’s Power of love.
    Just hoping XF US is better this week.

  • Highlighted

    I’m yet to have seen the show, but if it is as described, I see Chris as being in their sights and they are confident he will not be winning the show. I still believe the previous weeks they wanted him to get sympathy votes. More money and publicity. The producers aren’t stupid. They know a long time ago modern song choice and neutral comments would dampen support.

    • Rave

      I don’t think they were always that confident, or else they wouldn’t feel the need to pimp out Jahmene to the heavens every single week.

    • Luke

      What do you (or others) think that the producers would have done if they felt that they’d be unable to knock down Chris and he was definitely going to win the show? They could hardly start dressing him in stars and telling us that he’s going to be the next big thing.

  • George

    Any one else notice F You by CiLo Green playing in the background during one of Chris’ VTs

    • maccafan

      Very astute observation George, you’re right (just before his second song). I can’t laugh yet though as I don’t want to tempt fate.

  • Luke

    Viewing figures down not only on last year but on last week (http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/entertainment/news/x-factor-semifinal-audience-drops-16245385.html)… not a good sign for James/UJ who’d be the one that floating voters might go for?

  • Highlighted

    Chris odds spiralling

  • Donald

    That was an inspired continuation of dampening Christopher by the producers in the intro singalong

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