X Factor 2013: Audition Shows Preview

Here we go again. X Factor revs into gear for its tenth series this Saturday. In an attempt to halt declining ratings, producers have been tinkering with the bodywork. Whether the spluttering engine will be appreciably better is open to question.

Sharon Osbourne replaces Tulisa on the panel; behind-closed-doors auditions are back, alongside arena tryouts; there’s a Saturday-Sunday double bill every weekend; and reportedly a change to the voting format, the implications of which we consider in our final point below.

Here are some other things to bear in mind before the series kicks off.

1. The early bird…

It’s worth reading our auditions preview from last year as most of the points still stand. The frontloading of the audition shows held again last year. Ella and Jahmene in week 1; James, Rylan, Lucy and Kye in week 2. Previous year – Devlin, The Brucknell and Cocozza in show 1 (along with Goldie Cheung, who was supposed to have made it); Misha B, Craig Colton and Johnny Robinson in week 2.

2010 was the exception that proves the rule – only Katie Waissel from the first show made the lives (but surely Gamu and Shirleena were supposed to, before their wheels came off); Mary Byrne and Matt Cardle from 2. 2009 – Stacey Solomon, Joe McElderry, Jedward and Danyl Johnson from show 1, Jamie Archer from show 2.

The series returns later in 2013 than it has done in recent years. Scheduling opening episodes after the Bank Holiday weekend suggests producers are desperate to start with decent ratings. We can reasonably expect one or two of those heavily pimped in the opening weekend’s shows to be among plans for the latter stages.

2. Same old stories

According to our sources at this year’s auditions, you can expect the usual mix of standing ovations for “world-class performances”, clashing judges, wacky eccentrics and vocal car crashes. The acoustic guitar that became a feature of 2012 was also much in evidence.

In other words, it sounds like the same old same old. And that means it should be worth looking out for producers’ usual tropes. As has been hotly debated in our comments section in the past, comparing contestants across years is something that has to be done with caution. Nonetheless, we do consistently see producers setting up certain tried-and-trusted trajectories.

Take one example: the divisive/pantomime act, performed with aplomb by Rylan Clark last year. While there are salient differences between Rylan and those who have previously fulfilled a similar function – Katie Waissel, Wagner, Jedward, Chico et al – there are also some commonalities. Broadly, the set-up is for a transition from love-to-hate to love-to-watch. It’s worth remembering just how unsympathetic and untalented Rylan was made out to be in his audition segment; a year on, he returns as an Xtra Factor reporter having won Celebrity Big Brother.

So don’t dismiss the possibility of an apparently poor and controversial auditionee evolving into a major plank of the series – a narrative arc usually involving a bottom two appearance and controversial rescue, and leading ultimately to redemption.

3. Same old faces

Not only are many of the stories the same, some of the personnel are too. Last year there was a greater focus on returning rejects, such as Jade Richards and Melanie McCabe (the idea isn’t new, as Alexandra Burke proved). Of all the boomerangs, the one they settled on for the live shows was singing contest veteran Carolynne Poole, whose week 1 departure showed her to be a misguided choice.

Does this mean all this year’s repeat chancers will be fobbed off before the live shows, or will they dare put through any of the likes of Joe Whelan, Amy Mottram, Terry Winstanley, Melanie McCabe and Rough Copy (who reportedly suffered another visa hiccup)?

4. The judging line-up

In hindsight, there was significance in last year’s decision to switch Nicole’s and Gary’s seating positions, so that the former occupied the alpha position to the viewers’ right long kept warm by Simon Cowell’s butt. Does Nicole keep her prime place after managing strong reviews and mentoring gold in 2012?

Will Gary do better than hyping the likes of Frankie Cocozza, Carolynne Poole and Kye Sones? He looked an isolated figure at times last year, but remains the alpha male judge. Louis is the returning court jester. It’s reported to be his last series, but the giggling provocateur-in-chief has comeback queen Sharon Osbourne as well as the former Take That frontman to annoy.

It’s been reported in the tabloids that Gary has been given the groups and Nicole the girls – the categories that have produced the most commercially viable acts from the franchise. Apparently Louis has the boys and Sharon the overs.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out. Will producers allow Sharon at least one plausible contender for the win, in what is traditionally the weakest category? Does giving the boys to Louis indicate that producers have a suitably controversial character in mind for him, or merely that they’d like to scupper the category given that it won last year and has won three of the last six series?

And will the groups be Borelowed in the same way the overs were last year? It may be no bad thing if Gary’s calming influence at least puts the kibosh on the farcical personnel changes that often take place between auditions and live shows, as with 2011’s revolving door on The Risk and 2012’s rebranding of Triple J to Union J.

5. Damp squib Sundays?

The voting system reportedly changes this year. There’s a “flash” vote after the performances, and by the end of the Saturday show we know who’s finished bottom of the vote. That act will be in the bottom two, and will be the one to go if the judges are deadlocked. Then there’s more voting to determine which other act – announced on the Sunday show – is also in the bottom two.

We’re assuming the thinking here is that it will likely lead to one or two ratings-boosting midseries shockers. Presumably the week 7 Sunday show would have been much more hotly-anticipated last year, for example, if they’d announced on the Saturday that Ella was bottom of the vote. Ditto Cher Lloyd in week 7 in 2010, or Misha B in week 4 in 2011.

But, against that, there’s the loss of suspense in the deadlock situation – no more waiting for Dermot to announce the name. We’re surprised producers are willing to lose that little element of drama.

We’re even more surprised that they’re willing to tie their hands in situations where they have a serious-but-dispensable act bottom of the vote and a would-like-to-save-but-would-be-controversial novelty act second bottom. The time-honoured path has been for a judge to agonise then say “you know what, I’m going to let the public decide”, and pull a surprised face when the novelty act stays – recall Louis Walsh saving Rylan Clark over Carolynne Poole, and Simon Cowell saving Jedward over Lucie Jones. Those saves would have been harder to pull off if we’d known in advance that deadlock would have meant Carolynne and Lucie departing.

There is also a worry that this change may lead to some very predictable Sunday shows, and hence very dull elimination markets. When producers seem clearly to be gunning for an act, and then we find out  at the end of the Saturday show that they’ve succeeded in getting that act to the bottom of the vote, where’s the suspense? Think of the likes of Jade Ellis in week 4 last year, or Nu Vibe in week 2 in 2011, or Belle Amie after their coffins in 2010. If we’d known at the end of the Saturday show that they were bottom of the vote, they would surely have been long odds-on throughout the Sunday.

Indeed, last year, in each of weeks 3, 4, 5, 6 and 8, the bottom act was one that seemed clearly to have been treated as being on the “disposable list” (MK1, Jade Ellis, Kye Sones, D3 and Rylan Clark respectively). There would  have been fewer variables to entertain ourselves with debating on a Sunday afternoon.

There is also the question of whether the short voting window might work to the advantage or disadvantage of certain kinds of act. Rob at entertainmentodds.com suggests it “will certainly motivate tweenies in their support of boy bands or solo male heart-throbs”. We’re not so sure it’ll make much difference – if an act is weak enough to be in danger of hitting the bottom, will shorter voting necessarily save them? Time will tell.

What are you most looking forward to as the X Factor returns to our screens? Do let us know below. We’re eagerly anticipating being back in the early part of next week with our review of the first weekend’s audition shows.

46 comments to X Factor 2013: Audition Shows Preview

  • eurovicious

    If they want to increase ratings, I can think of four words: more charisma, less unpleasantness. (With regard to every aspect of the show – the auditions, judges, finalists, level of manipulation etc). The tone was set last year in the opening audition shows when that Pink woman was disgracefully coached for public slaughter and we were sold a coterie of dull dirge-peddlers as the emperor’s new clothes. Viewers wouldn’t have latched on to Rylan and Chris so heartily (in lieu of owt else) if tumbleweed and toby jug (Ella and James) had had winning personalities.

    The return of private auditions is good, and while on balance I liked Tulisa despite her less well-advised moments, they didn’t have much choice about ditching her after her album bombed (credibility as judge etc). However, while I liked Cheryl and loved Dannii and Kelly, I think Scherzinger plus Osbourne plus Gobshite (Walsh) will make for a pretty unpleasant combination. Broadly speaking, Gary, Kelly, Dannii, Cheryl, Simon and even Tulisa were all fair, kind and professional the bulk of the time. Osbourne is fickle, opinionated and unprofessional, Scherzinger bizarre, brittle and more interested in promoting herself (using her judging time to act kooky and try and go viral rather than focusing on the artist), and Louis is Louis.

    I read somewhere that there’ll be no joke/novelty act this year, I think they pushed that particular envelope as far as it could go with that eejit Rylan last year.

    Last year was my first time watching a series of the X Factor from start to finish and I swore I wouldn’t watch this year’s after being aghast at what a fixed procession it was (audition-show frontloading and talent-scouted acts – pick who you want to launch, implant them in viewers’ minds in the opening shows, then pimp and steer them to the final stages) and the vicious treatment of Chris. However if Jade Richards, Joseph Whelan (woof), Melanie et al are permitted to proceed from the pop hecatomb of bootcamp/judges’ houses and make it to the live shows, I may watch. On Youtube. They’d be daft not to let those three through given how large a fanbase they’ve built up and how disappointed people were when they didn’t get through in previous years.

  • Dan

    The countdown to Christmas has started…!

    One thing that intrigues me this year is the rumour of the “flash” vote. Now I can’t see ITV or Syco wanting to forego huge amounts of revenue from the phone votes so perhaps if it’s true, the implication is that the majority of votes are cast as soon as the phone lines open?

    Also, any thoughts on what sort of act that The Powers That Be want to win this year? We haven’t had a successful female act for a while, and those in the Girls and Overs categories last year did diabolically.

    Whatever, this is the tenth anniversary, the programme needs to bring in the viewers, so expect fireworks, controversy, the lot!

  • Natasha

    If the rumoured catergories are true, It won’t be an ‘over’ winning, nor can I see a ‘boy’ winning, Purely because they have Sharon and Louis as mentors and Louis gets it so so wrong. Louis is too old school and holds no relevance in the pop industry as it is today and Sharon doesn’t have a clue. This leaves us with a group or a girl winner. Gary and the groups should work very well together but last year Gary didn’t seem fully commited to his acts. Nicole was brilliant last year and is the prefect candidate to take on the girls, and in my eyes, is a sure fire winner Watch this space!

  • Natasha

    Forgot to mention that the most succesful winners have been from the Girls category and as it’s the tenth anniversary, surely they’d want a finished product they know will be massively successful?

  • tpfkar

    Welcome back. Best site on the net for X factor coverage.

    My biggest lesson from last year is the opposite of Natasha’s: don’t get carried away with a girls category that looks deceptively strong. Janet Devlin, Misha B, Ella Henderson etc were nowhere near in terms of votes when it mattered. And if Nicole won again, it would look unbalanced after 1st and 2nd last time.

    The voting changes sound bizarre and will affect the betting, need to keep close tabs on this.

    Good luck everyone

    • Natasha

      I bet heavily on James last year 5 weeks before the final. Yes I could be wrong with what I have said for this year and it’s far to early to say, however, I think surely we can rule out Louis or Sharon as winning judge?

    • R

      They could easily have switched James with Ella and pushed her to a win. It would have been easy with the Sun & Mirror campaigns James received.
      I don’t think Misha ever had a chance once the bullying accusations arose.
      It took a lot of producer hate for the show to remove Janet and whittle down her lead.

      Personally, I expect Plan A to be a female.
      The history of winners is:
      Male, male, female, male female,
      male, male, female, male………..

      If there’s a strong female with a soulful voice (maybe in the overs), similar to Leona or Alexandra Burke, then she will be my front runner.

  • Gavster

    Amy Mottram hasn’t made the judge’s house stage – it’s just Melanie and Jade among what is a very capable group of girls.

    Sam Callaghan (boys) will be well liked from the off, but could be used as a Danyl Johnson (love to hate) character. He seems quite cocky and was apparently booed at bootcamp.

    From what I’ve researched to date, the groups and girls are very strong, but Sharon’s overs – if given positive coverage – shouldn’t be discounted.

    Hannah on tonight’s show is one of the girls through to judge’s house stage.

  • Steven

    My thinking on the flash vote is that it’ll make the running order more important than it’s ever been. The shorter the voting window, the less time viewers have to think back to earlier performances.

  • R

    The only reason for the flash voting is to shock people into voting for their favourites en mass. ie more income from voting (which seems to be the most lucrative area of income for Syco).
    It feels like a trick learned from pushing the public to vote for James Arthur last year “it’s your fault, you’re voting for the wrong person”.
    This year, if there’s a “credible” act at the bottom, it will be a reminder not to let the other credibles fall.
    I think the show will be able to build enough tension with the “we now know one act up for elimination, will your favourite be joining them” spiel.
    The theme of TXF 2013 is to get the viewers emotionally involved then get them voting on impulse.

  • stoney

    Stand out act tonight for me was the prison guard, only one I could see winning it

    • Natasha

      X Factor have never had a winner like that (age, looks. Not being mean here) and I can’t ever seeing it happen unfortunatly

      • Dan

        Steve Brookstein won the first series when he was 36, so as Boki says below, caution is needed here. Another thing to bear in mind is the acts you see in the auditions are still rough around the edges; anyone who makes the final will be styled, groomed, and voice-coached to within an inch of their lives before they hit prime time live TV.

        Noting Daniel’s point on frontloading of acts, be it Hannah, the Justin Bieber tribute, or the prison guard, there’s at least one finalist here.

        • Natasha

          That was 10 years ago!! Times have changed. The music industry has changed. Yes, before Little Mix, a group had never won before but Little Mix were a cut above the other groups through in previous years (apart from JLS of course but they were up against Alexandra Burke). They were ‘current’ and ‘appealing’ to fans both young and old and we had the the whole ‘girl power’ thing was pushed upon us. Yes it could be the year for an ‘over’ but i’d be more confident in saying so if we had someone like Matt Cardle again. Sams a belter, a really good one at that but its 2013 and a lot of chart toppers have something ‘edgy’ about them which is what I think contributed to James winnning.

        • Gavster

          Hannah and Sam make it to judges houses. In my opinion, both are capable of making the live shows. The Justin Bieber tribute doesn’t get to JH.

    • Boki

      I agree with Natasha in this case but we need to be cautious with those “X Factor have never had a winner like that” statements since until 2011 “a group has never won” and last year James had no chance because “nobody who ended in bottom two has ever won”. Could it be that 2013 is an “over” year? Anyway the market thinks Sam is indeed a favorite at the moment.

  • Donald

    Hi everybody, nice to see the course and what previous runners and riders are entered! Leaks on web mean nothing, big difference this year, Simon weak, and a big player for many years has an audition to do also. The Mirror today probably sums up best, the difference between lovely Dan on the tweet machine and what the pack are out for. A bet for the fun of it to start JADE, at least we know she can sing, if this the press mentality mind the £! this thing might even not get to Xmas!


  • stoney

    I think they would like sharon to win or at least go close on her return to the show, and the fact that no one like her has won it before means they are more likely to push her, she certainly wouldn’t be a threat to any of the current syco stable sales wise and I could see the public backing her in this competition

  • stoney

    i wont be touching her at the 5’s coral are currently offering though!!!

  • Ben Cook

    Hannah could be the one.. very strong voice and a good sob story. Her image could be a problem but they might be able to give her a good makeover.

    If anyone wants to see the spoilers for judges houses, they are here. (Should be fairly reliable as of course they were picked in front of an audience this year)


    Amused to see a really successful Israeli singer Chen Aharoni get a very lukewarm reception from the judges on Xtra Factor. Eurovision fans will remember him from Israel’s 2011 selection, with “Or”, a song that could have potentially won the whole thing.

    • stoney

      A few familiar names returning by the looks of it, glad joeseph whelan is there, he was extremely unlucky to miss out last year

    • eurovicious

      Oh my god! Thanks for mentioning this. I unfortunately didn’t watch any NFs in 2011 so didn’t know. (I downloaded all the NF songs from that year recently so I can catch up. Hardcore, I know.) What a hilariously overblown fanwank – ballad-to-uptempo switch, key change, silver suit, woman leaping around waving a streamer, shirtless dancers, the full works! It wouldn’t even have qualified, let alone won.


      I don’t like the fact his audition was played for comedy on the basis of him being a foreign pop star (as if that was something inherently comical, almost to be looked down on) but at the same time, there was no justification for him being on the main show. And his vocal definitely wasn’t outstanding.

  • Gavster

    There are three groups to monitor: BrickCity and a new girl group formed by Gary. There’s an already established boyband called Kingsland that target a slightly maturer audience than the X-Factor vernacular, though I can’t see any reason why TPTB would need another group of lads for Simon to manage. That said, Kingsland have a decent following. A quick google and I can see another stateside band with the same name, albeit slightly heavier, so perhaps there’s another disastrous name change on the cards?

  • R

    The stand out act for me was Tamera Foster from Silver Rock.
    She has the look; she’s only 16, so will be able to gain the youth vote in the latter stages, she has a “cool” vibe and the discussion around the group was about becoming a threesome “like Destiny’s Child” or solo acts like a Beyonce. Louis has described her as having the potential to be bigger than Leona and Alexandra Burke, and she’s a decent singer.
    From today’s Metro:

    In scenes due to air tonight, things get off to a bad start when the nervous teen flees the stage and heads for her family after forgetting the words to her version of Whitney Houston’s I Have Nothing.
    But after a mini pep talk from show host Dermot O’Leary she reappears and wows the crowd with her flawless vocals.
    Gary told her she had ‘potential beyond belief’ and Louis reckons she has what it takes to go all the way.
    The only issue I would have is if they put her into a group.
    Hannah was ok but the sob story was ott and the judges overdid her ability. I put her in the Jade Richards 2011 category as one of the two acts fighting to fill the final place at judge’s houses. I feel she will be the heart-wrenching failure (pure speculation).
    I didn’t like prison guard at all. Her sob story was basically “I have a job”.
    She was the typical overhyped cruise ship singer like Sami Brookes, Mary Byrnes. She is a shoe –in for the lives but will be killed off before the top 4.

  • eurovicious

    A better opening show than last year’s but business as usual. The tiredness of the format is very apparent and the mechanism is showing. Combined with Xtra Factor afterwards (which I was falling asleep during) it seemed to go on forever and was boring. Last night offered nothing we haven’t seen before in a previous iteration.

    That said, Sharon was a funny and refreshing addition, and what I did like about it is there were no VTs of contestants at home or on their to the audition, and the good acts like Hannah, Sam, Silver Rock etc very obviously weren’t scouted or prepped. Combined with the return to closed-room auditions, It was a much more honest opening show than last year’s which I do think is well-advised and a big step in the right direction. It’s a talent contest, not a procession.

    Hannah was good and I connected with her, but R is correct that the judges overpraised her ability; she has a really nice colour to her voice but the song she sung only has a limited vocal range and the snatches we heard of her upper register sounded much less strong. It’s worth noting she’s the opposite of the “confident black female” archetype and therefore largely non-threatening, while at the same time also less flaky and more grounded than Janet, for instance – but despite that, I’m not sure how well she’ll catch on with the public. Sam’s performance (the second half in particular) was the best of the show, vocally she was superb – definitely not cruise-ship. There was colour, a rocky edge, good control and real strength to her voice, particularly in the upper register. I didn’t interpret her being a prison guard as a sob story and I don’t think she presented it as such either. She’s likeable – you can tell she’s someone very loving, self-deprecating, and very focused on other people, as communicated to us by her interactions with her husband, her kids on the phone, and even her talking about her dog.

    Bad auditionees will have had equally sad stories to Hannah’s, but they’re not shown – then they’re held up for public mockery for being odd or bad singers. You only get your sob story shown if you’re good, as someone likeable who’s been through hard times but can’t sing their way out of a paper bag doesn’t fit the hackneyed and by now all-too-apparent “redemption through song” narrative.

  • Dan

    From a punters perspective, is it worth watching Xtra Factor? Checking it out last night for the first time, it hardly seemed to be the place to showcase your top talent, I mean why wouldn’t you feature them on the main programme? Has anyone from previous years got far in the competition in spite of their audition ending up on the “lesser” show?

    • Daniel

      Good question, Dan. Those featured solely on Xtra Factor are far less likely to feature in the live shows, particularly as soloists. There is some chance of one or two ending up in a group, one example being Ashford Campbell, who was the “main man” in Nu Vibe before being drafted into The Risk.

      Xtra Factor was worth watching at this stage last year because it included a long interview with one of the auditionees from the main show. It was an excellent indicator of producer favour – Ella was interviewed by Olly Murs in a recording studio in last year’s first Xtra Factor. Melanie, Chris and Lucy were among other live show alumni also featured in this way.

      Last night’s Xtra Factor felt like it was no use to punters whatsoever. But it is worth watching tonight to see if Sam or Hannah, or indeed anyone else, is chosen for an in-depth profile.

      • Dan

        Well I watched it tonight; Sam Bailey got some very favourable treatment what with an interview and another performance. Our alpha over this year? I’m not biting at 7/1 at the moment though but hopefully they’ll lengthen and she’ll be a good back to lay. One thing that strikes me about her though is that I suspect she is in exactly the demographic that picks up the phone and votes (multiple times?) each week, and so people like her will vote for her.

  • stoney

    Sams audience performance was bang on the money, she has a lot more going for her than mary byrne as some have suggested, still going to hold off on backing her, ive never backed anyone at the first episode weekend stage, and i expect her odds to drift as the weeks to go by.

  • Boki

    It looked like Coral briefly offered 34 for Tamera, can’t get in there but though but surely it was an error!?

    • stoney

      shes available at 11’s now, so could have been before tonights show?

    • Boki

      No no, just minutes ago, she was 11-13 on other places and 34 on Coral, thought it was an error on oddschecker and went to Coral site and there was indeed 34 but grayed out at that moment and went back to 11 soon after. Anyway she was amazing and despite the drug issue I took some @13 and 11.

      • Boki

        Sorry to all for being so confusing, took her at other bookies where I can place a bet…

        Btw that DS spoiler list is very informative, that’s probably the reason why Alejandro is still in 50-100 range.

  • stoney

    brave man, considering the fluffed lines in tonights show

  • Shoulders

    Placed an EW bet on Tamera tonight with Corals, it was showing 33’s but by the time I deposited some cash the bet was changed to 20’s
    Please don’t say this has the chance of being voided, I’ve had a Britains Got Talent “winning” bet voided as well as a Big Brother so far this year

  • eurovicious

    I partly retract my “nothing new” comment from yesterday – Sam is something new. She’s more talented than anyone at the judges’ houses stage last year was.

    Xtra Factor has become unwatchably witless.

  • eurovicious

    That Tamera was overpimped to high heaven in what I’d call the first major case of overpimping in this year’s series. “Whitney” started trending on Twitter after her performance, and when I clicked on it I saw it was because so many people (from her own sort of demographic) were aghast at her having repeatedly forgotten the words to a Whitney song. There wasn’t much praise for her to be seen.

    She was just all over the place and her voice wasn’t that outstanding at all. There’s potential, yes, but nowhere near as much as they made out – comparing her to Leona, with her superb range, control and professionalism, is outright ridiculous. Tamera has huge issues with control, preparedness, professionalism, even timing – she’s just all over the place. Come back in 2-3 years, she’s not ready.

  • Shoulders

    I thought Tamera seems a prime candidate for the “Journey” which is a hit with the viewers?

  • I havent been majorly impressed with the candidates so far.
    Sam bailey looks just another mary byrne type belter to me and with her u can just see her doing power ballad after power ballad it will soon get boring and i cant see the producers pushing for her when it comes to the lives.

    Hannah barrett’s sob story was probably her strongest point she has got a kind of down to earth likeability about her,but from a vocal point of you i think her style is very boring and nothing special at all althought she could do alright if pushed.

    Tamera sounded decent in her first clip when splitting from her group partner, but i wasnt impressed yesterday nothing fresh just sounded like a bad karaoke version of whitney with forgotten lines all over the place.

    This year though my game plan will be not to jump all over the favourite at the start of the lives, this show usually likes to build a favourite up and smash them down with plenty of twists and turns along the way its very rare the market leader from auditions goes all the way.
    Unless someone with crazy talent like a leah mcfall comes along im really going to try avoid doing that

  • AlisonR

    Sam is the frontrunner for me at this stage, but it’s early days. None of the others they put through were great, although Hannah may grow in confidence. What on earth is Chen (Xtra Factor) doing? Career suicide surely, as he has no chance of emulating his win back home.

  • As far as the flash vote is concerned, I suppose when given a very small voting window right at the end of the show, the acts that will collect most votes and avoid the bottom of the vote will be either those with big fanbases (either because they are clearly ahead of the field like Matt Cardle/Jahmene or because they have wet hormonal teenage girls craving for them like 1D) OR those given a favourable treatment by the producers (late slot + good production void of habibising + not sandwich between 2 big hitters + no diverging techniques in judges’ comments). It’s easier to forget ‘buried’ acts with no apparent hardcore fanbase if one has to rush and vote under stress-inducing conditions. So, maybe after losing control to some extend of their shooting techniques last year with the introduction of voting during the whole show, TPTB are this year trying through the flash vote to make sure that early slot + habibised production + sandwich + diverging comments = act desired hits bottom of the vote.

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