X Factor Week 9 Elimination: Union busted?

The odds suggest Union J will be this weekend’s semi-final casualties. I took some of the 10-11 earlier in the week and they’re now best-priced 8-11 to go. Noises are suggesting – with no official confirmation yet – that there won’t be a singoff, which would only cement their status as elimination favourites.

Richard Betsfactor did the math in his article on Sofabet earlier this week. Without a singoff, 25.1% would guarantee you a place in the final. Historically, at least 18% of the phone vote is required to put you in with a shout. Union J’s bottom two appearance in week 4 suggests they had about 5.5% of the vote at that stage. Admittedly there were a greater number of rivals back then but two further singoff appearances aren’t encouraging.

As Nicky pointed out in the comments after last Sunday: “every act that survived the bottom two at the five act stage has been eliminated the following week, ie, finished fourth. (Diana Vickers, Danyl Johnson, Cher Lloyd and Misha B.)” However, in 2008 Danyl Johnson only narrowly missed out on a place in the final having been in the bottom two as early as week 3, whilst Misha B survived a week 4 bottom two appearance and two further singoffs before also just falling short in the 2011 semi.

These examples may indicate it’s not an impossible task for the boyband. But Danyl and Misha were perceived to be the most divisive yet talented acts in their respective years. The same can’t be said for Union J who are the blandest of the remaining contestants this time.

If there isn’t a singoff, Union J’s chances of making the final diminish on a number of levels. Firstly, such a decision may indicate that producers don’t feel they can get or even want Chris Maloney in the bottom two against the boyband. We have to assume that they want Jahmene and James in the final having been name-checking them as such for a good few weeks now.

Secondly, if the decision is taken not to have a singoff it will affect the way the acts are treated in tonight’s show. At the semi-final stage the obvious criticism and damaging productions are usually toned down, and we’ll explain below why that may particularly be the case for Chris. However, without a singoff it will be even more necessary for producers to hype the likes of James to ensure his place in the final. As a result, I don’t think Union J will enjoy the all-out pimping that boyband predecessors One Direction were helped with at this stage in 2010.

As for Chris, who would have predicted that he would become the act to lay bare the machinations of the show unlike anyone before him? We’ve had two live shows with judges commenting on his productions in a way that was once the preserve of Sofabet and similar sites. This week we’ve been told in The Sun that producers don’t want to see more negative stories for fear of stoking a sympathy vote, followed by, ahem, a raft of further negative stories.

Quite how long it has been happening is open to debate (Sofabet commenters such as R have been saying it for a while), but it seems clear by now that producers are embracing the Christopher Maloney phenomenon as the best headline-generating story of the series. This week’s column inches suggest programme makers recognise it is going all the way to the final. If those Daily Star leaks are true and he extended his lead in week 7, they may not have had much choice.

I’m still sure they don’t want him to win this competition, but how to stop a runaway train? My guess is that tonight will see the bullying from the judges superficially ease up whilst still trying to plant the thought in viewers’ minds that he somehow isn’t ‘deserving’ or ‘right’ as an X Factor winner. A continuation of what we’ve seen in the press all week, basically. I’m not tempted by the 10-3 best price on him being eliminated next.

Generally priced at 8-1 to go, James’s press this week has largely been about his abilities as a ladies’ man which producers have tried to push all series. Physically and musically he has always been something of an acquired taste but there has been an attempt to broaden his appeal in the last few weeks. We haven’t had a mid-song rap with its associated stomping around the stage since week 5’s ‘Don’t Speak’. This was when his backdrop of red triangles pointing downwards looked least helpful.

This gradual change failed to fly with the public in week 7 when a safe choice of ‘Can’t Take My Eyes Off You’ put him in the bottom two. That and last week’s ‘S.O.S’ felt a little Cardle-esque in its everyman-with-a-guitar vibe. But producers stepped up a gear with his styling and production for ‘Let’s Get It On’, which looked like an attempt to morph the now suited James into some kind of Michael Buble, unlikely as that seems. His performance of the soul classic won him rave reviews and helped him bounce out of the bottom two. I’m expecting more of the suit and a continued absence of rapping this week in a bid to push him to the final.

That leaves us with 10-1 outsider to be eliminated Jahmene Douglas, whose treatment tonight intrigues me the most. I think producers still have in mind a place in the final for him. But why did Tulisa, who behaved as if she didn’t believe what she was saying when pimping him to the heavens after week 5’s ‘Listen’, put on her bored face for the cameras during his ‘Tracks of My Tears’ last week? And unlike week 6’s ‘Angels’ and week 1’s ‘Imagine’, why didn’t they give him a choir for ‘I Have a Dream’, a song that from the Abba original to the Westlife cover always uses a choir of children?

He didn’t get the ‘winner’s lighting’ that we saw in weeks 5 and 6 in particular. He was also on a big plinth for both songs, as for week 7’s ‘Don’t Leave Me This Way’. And Gary stepped up the mentions of his tendency to ad-lib. Maybe I’m reading too much into these things. After all, a positive VT ensured the ‘awwww, he loves his Mum’ vote remained motivated. His name was up in lights. I couldn’t help but detect mixed messages, however.

In theory, producers not wanting to see Chris win should be continuing to do everything they can to pimp Jahmene as the act who has, according to the Daily Star, been his closest rival in the public vote and competes for a similar demographic. Do producers feel he has failed to halt the Maloney express and was that why he was decoupled from Chris in the week 8 running order for the first time since week 4? I’m confused and thus intrigued to see how tonight pans out for Jahmene.

Do let us know your thoughts on this and all the other semi-final points of interest below.

40 comments to X Factor Week 9 Elimination: Union busted?

  • Ronnie

    Agree with most but would say no bottom two actually helps Union J as their only chance is to get more votes than one other act. With a bottom two they’d be eliminated if finishing 3rd in the votes ahead of James or Jahmene – that possibility has now been taken away. Put it this way, I’d be more confident backing them to go with a bottom two, especially if Chris is topping the vote as we are led to believe.

  • Highlighted

    If there is no sing-off it would be great to know where James polled last week. His and Jahmene’s price look quite big, but yeah UJ should be faves to go.

  • Donald

    Intriguing stuff, let’s see how James goes during the show tonight, I wonder where Rylans vote will switch to and where is Ella’s vote gone to?

    Maybe James is struggling also, the Jahmene situation is an odd one, mixed messages well observed Daniel.

    Song choice tonight could be a big factor again, maybe they give Jahmene a short straw on song choice like they did to Ella and be real nasty on VT which they were to Ella. 10/1 could look big then.

    It is going to be seriously interesting to see Christopher treatment tonight..

  • This is interesting in the Mirror, about Chris’s nan and Louis


    As the credits rolled, Nanny Pat O’Brien stormed across the studio to bawl him out after he branded Christopher “bland, boring” and “very cruise ship”…

    Pat said: “I asked Louis Walsh ­afterwards, I said, ‘Why, Louis?’…

    “And he just said, ‘It’s a show, it’s just entertainment. It’s a Saturday night TV show and that’s what the public want to hear’.

    “I thought it was a singing competition.”

    It will be very interesting to see if they finally go down the lukewarm praise route tonight.

    • Jack

      Didn’t they already try that, Andrew in Week 7 with the “Total Eclipse of the Heart” performance? I still think that if they want to get him out they need to give him a modern song. Its a bit baffling that they haven’t given it to him yet.

      By the way, apparently, he has indicated that he’s singing “You’ll Never Walk Alone” this week, which would surely see him through to the Final?

      • EM

        Only baffling if they want rid of him. If he’s singing You’ll Never Walk Alone tonight he’ll top the vote such is the love for that song across the country and in Liverpool in particular.

        Unless he does a dubstep version with a Nicki Minaj rap in the middle.

        • WideOfTheMark

          EM – now that I would pay to see. Have mainly been leaving things alone so far this week – definitely tinkered too much early doors. I have converted some profits from Top 3 side bets on Chris into insurance bets should he lose 3-1 turns into a lot of lay cover at 1.3 or thereabouts

      • They did, Jack, but then spoiled it by drawing attention to the demon eyes. I should have said comments that couldn’t give anybody any conceivable motivation to vote for him.

        But evidently not if they’re giving him “You’ll Never Walk Alone”! The song that got Ray Quinn to the final ahead of Ben Mills. I wonder if he’ll burst into tears, as Ray did.

  • Boki

    Is it now for sure he sings YNWA or not?

  • EM

    Just had a thought. You’ll Never Walk Alone in the final and released for the Hillsborough fund would be a massive vote getter and seller and would be pretty much unable to be criticised.

    Interesting way out

  • Jack

    Nice. Change of tack, praise for Chris,
    Louis: “You’ve done your nan proud. You’re going to change your nan’s life”

    How we going to read this, have producers accepted the inevitable or do they think they can get him into the bottom?

    • Luke

      I don’t think they can get him to the bottom or they’d have done the sing-off. That’s the acceptance that he’ll be in the final for me (plus the fact that I think he’d need to drop a ridiculous percentage of the votes to get anywhere near it anyway based on my calculations of percentages based on Daily Star leaks and previous series).

      I think they might want him to win – as EM says above, YNWA in the final and released for charity is a great way out. Hold their hands up and accept defeat, then he vanishes into obscurity. If they wanted him not to win, they should’ve got rid of YNWA this week so that people have “seen his best” in the semi-finals and say in the final that it didn’t live up to the semis.

    • Andy C

      That looked to be pitched right at the demo…they have thrown in the towel

  • Luke

    Seems like this is the push to ensure Jahmene gets in the final with a guaranteed sympathy vote (more of a sympathy grabber than Chris’ nan’s mild VT), not sure how they can top it when he gets there though?

  • Donald

    That was serious push to get the floating votes for Jahmene, and probably a winners song if he wins, they still chucked as much as they could probably dare at Christopher, The VT in the empty cafe was a well tried dampener also.

  • Nicky

    James Arthur, Northern star – trying to challenge Maloney’s regional vote?

    • Luke

      The only good thing about his performance though? VT pretty much saying “don’t vote I’m already in the final”, bit of red and black, song that didn’t really delight the demo (bit too early u2). Tulisa begging for votes will help though but perhaps shows he needs it as the judges didn’t do that for any of the other artists so far. That performance didn’t back up the “chosen one” status that it appeared that he did have.

      17/2 to go this week seems like value to me if they’ve decided that he’s not near enough to Chris in the votes to win (Union J could do with the top 3 a lot more for their future career)

  • Donald

    Strange version of One, there is a saying don’t mess with perfection which the original One is pretty close to.

  • Andy C

    If James doesn’t kill his next song..he’s a gonna…that was not pitched at anyone… even his backers would have felt let down…guess I’ll be skipping the final

  • Jack

    Anyone else feel like tonight is ‘Operation Get Jahmene to the Final’?

  • Nicky

    Shakey’s back drop saying ‘time’s up’?

    • Donald

      That was one last serious go at Christopher, they didn’t go down without a fight! From all the dated years in big numbers on screen to the clock ticking behind, red and black, they basically threw the book and Christopher definitely out of his comfort zone.

      • annie

        agree. it all felt like they still have a chance to get him out. the song choice looked good on paper, but sounded dodgy and the staging didn’t reflect the fun nature of the song at all.

  • EM

    Has Dermot been reading my comments? Christopher doing Minaj next week???!!!!

  • Maloney, trying to escape his time ‘Buble’ (pun intended) to try to prove that he is ‘with it’ (with the red/black clock ticking away behind him too). Liverpool vote or not behind him, I can’t stop laughing. He may as well have tied that song to a bed of nails and jumped all over it with clogs on. Hold on…he DID though.
    The new ‘kill him with kindness’ ploy didn’t last long.

  • Donald

    #ChristopherMaloneyInventedCrocs trending on twitter, unreal, I keep an eye on Ireland twitter also (Louis factor) four trending tags for UJ #UnionJto final #PickUpthephoneandvoteUJ etc. now so Louis has the push on, James needs to pull it out of the bag now I reckon. took some at the odds after One.

  • Hi Donald. ‘Invented Crocs’ ?, don’t follow but get the gist. Agree on James though. Talent wise he smashes it for me…so much original talent in that lad, but maybe not recognised enough by the actual voters (depressing red/black stage too…hmmmmm?). Like I have said before, the age range that love him may be too cool to vote but WILL download all his songs. For me, he is in danger. UJ were boyband perfection on their first song but down on that with their second song.
    As usual, Baloney a joke and Jahmene is Jahmene…safe ..safe …safe and pleases the voting demo. Love him but get a bit yaaaawny now.

    • Donald

      It was a wierd trend, wonder where it originated from? I think James in danger also, he is coming back down from bounce at the end of the day, that starting point, they still has serious go at Christopher, UJ might be safe. Based on voting leaks etc. probably James but any of it far from a certainty bar Jahmene should be through.

  • EM

    Just a hunch but I read some of that as supportive of Christopher. The first round was all upbeat and positive, what a good guy. Then the second part was back to making you feel sorry for him. He can’t win, rubbished for doing old stuff, rubbished for doing new stuff, bored looks during the performance,

    Not sure where I stand on the Red and Black though. Both Christopher and James had red n black and unhelpful image in the background for their second songs. If only one goes there’s no sense in trying to damage two.

    I’m sticking with Union J to go, very unmemorable.

  • tpfkar

    I thought that was a highly effective hit job on Union J. First act completely overshadowed by Jahmene singing for his dead brother, ‘we’re singing for our fans’ didn’t compare, and then the second time a big distraction about Louis wearing a ‘onesie’ which reminded me about Uncle Louis with MK1. They were doing all they could for James, Jahmene looks like genus sailing through, but a very strong them weak song for Christopher which was odd.

  • Luke

    Watching Xtra Factor, in the rehearsal which they showed for about 2 seconds, Chris’ clocks backdrop was in yellow, not Red & Black. Not sure if that’s normal or another little shock for him?

  • Queen Bea

    Haven’t seen the show as am on nights, but some of the online forums claimed that Jahmene said he sang that Whitney song in 2008 at his brothers funeral. That is quite odd considering ths ong wasn’t released until mid 2009.

  • AlisonR

    not at all surprised union j went. I had forgotten what their first song was by the time they sang their second. “I’m already there” could also have subliminally meant “You don’t need to vote”.

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